ISM report: Manufacturing growth expands in April

Index reaches highest level since June 2011


The positive outlook surrounding U.S. manufacturing continued again in April, as the Manufacturing ISM report showed a 1.4 percentage point jump on the survey’s index. That marks 33 consecutive months of growth in manufacturing, and 35 straight months of economic growth.

The monthly report, issued by the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, showed not just growth above the 50% figure the committee uses to gauge growth, but also an increase over the March figures. It’s the first time the index has been above 54% since a 54.1% figure in January, and is now at its highest level since July 2011, when the index registered a 55.8% figure.

“Sixteen of the 18 industries reflected overall growth in April, and the New Orders, Production and Employment Indexes all increased, indicating growth at faster rates than in March,” said committee chairman Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD. “The Prices Index for raw materials remained at 61% in April, the same rate as reported in March. Comments from the panel generally indicate stable to strong demand, with some concerns cited over increasing oil prices and European stability."

Among the comments from committee members:

  • "In general, demand remains strong for products, and we [are experiencing] more supply disruptions now than four to five months ago." (Machinery)
  • "The economy was off to a good start through the first quarter, but the European issues keep coming up as well as the recent disappointing jobs report. It appears that some of the early gains may be temporary." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "Warm weather in Midwest appears to have helped soft drink sales." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Positive increase in volume of sales and orders, and slight uptick in inventories, indicate the overall outlook remains robust through summer at least." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • "Sales are slowing." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Business conditions on a national scale have a very positive outlook for the commercial metals we provide. At this point, we have outperformed each quarter's goal and anticipate a strong finish." (Primary Metals)
  • "Strong demand [compared to] previous year." (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • "Business indicators suggest a stronger stability in overall environment. Production and orders are stable." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Business conditions continue to improve." (Furniture & Related Products)









A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

The average PMI for January through April (53.7%) corresponds to a 3.8% increase in real gross domestic product,” Holcomb said. “In addition, if the PMI for April (54.8%) is annualized, it corresponds to a 4.1% increase in real GDP annually."












Apr 2012






Oct 2011




Mar 2012






Sep 2011




Feb 2012






Aug 2011




Jan 2012






Jul 2011




Dec 2011






Jun 2011




Nov 2011






May 2011




Average for 12 months – 53.2
High – 55.8
Low – 51.4


- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering,  

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