Manufacturing growth rebounds after summer slump

ISM report jumps above 50% level for first time since May as new orders expand


For the first time since May, the Institute for Supply Management’s closely-watched PMI Index jumped past the 50 mark in September. That indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. New orders and employment also were sharply higher for the first time this summer and sparked renewed optimism in manufacturing after a quarter of sluggish activity.

The 51.5 percent level for the PMI was 1.9 percentage points higher than August’s 49.6 figure, the largest single-month percentage point increase in more than a year. The New Orders Index registered 52.3 %, an increase of 5.2 percentage points from August, indicating growth in new orders after three consecutive months of contraction. The Production Index registered 49.5 %, an increase of 2.3 percentage points and indicating contraction in production for the second time since May 2009. The Employment Index increased by 3.1 percentage points, registering 54.7 percent. The Prices Index increased 4 percentage points from its August reading to 58%.

“Comments from the panel reflect a mix of optimism over new orders beginning to pick up, and continued concern over soft global business conditions and an unsettled political environment,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.”

Among those comments from ISM respondents:

  • "Appears that our so-called 'slowdown' was a summer thing. September brings with it increasing requirements and business." (Paper Products)
  • "Business improved through Q3, but is beginning to show signs of slowing down in Q4; this has been a typical trend over the last few years." (Wood Products)
  • "Business has picked up going into the last quarter." (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • "We are sticking to our manufacturing plan, but have slowed production down considerably. Haven't added any new units to the 2012 plan, and still have no forecast for 2013 released." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Sales have tanked over the last two months, bringing a very concerned and stressed management team. Not very optimistic for the near-term future." (Apparel, Leather & Allied Products)
  • "Uncertainty in the healthcare legislation (reform) continues to be the underlying force keeping our sales revenue below its full potential." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing) 

According to Holcomb, a PMI above 42.6 %, "Over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the September PMI indicates growth for the 40th consecutive month in the overall economy, and indicates a return to growth in the manufacturing sector following three consecutive months of slight contraction."












Sep 2012






Mar 2012




Aug 2012






Feb 2012




Jul 2012






Jan 2012




Jun 2012






Dec 2011




May 2012






Nov 2011




Apr 2012






Oct 2011




Average for 12 months – 52.2
High – 54.8
Low – 49.6


No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.