Manufacturing index remains strong in March

The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing manufacturers' index (PMI) dipped slightly to 57.2% in March, but the news for the manufacturing industry remains strong overall.

By Chris Vavra, CFE Media April 3, 2017

New orders, production levels, and employment continued to show strength in the manufacturing industry even though the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing manufacturers’ index (PMI) dropped slightly to 57.2% for March, a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. 

The new orders index decreased 0.6 percentage points to 64.5%, the fourth straight month that index was above 60%. The production index jumped 5.3 percentage points to 57.6%. On the other hand, the employment index jumped 4.7 points to 58.9%. For the second straight month, the manufacturing industry remains busy with 17 of the 18 industries reporting growth in February.

Among the comments from committee members were:

  • "Business conditions continue to improve." (Chemical Products)
  • "Business outlook is positive." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Regional business is strong. Hiring qualified team members has improved." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "We had a lot of storm orders, so it really pushed our sales up this month." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • "Starting to see some prices creeping up. We are raising our sales prices as well." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Business up 10-15 percent." (Machinery)
  • "Industry outlook is looking relatively flat currently, and the view for calendar year 2017 looks to be flat as well. Job market has been very good in the region, and finding talent has been challenging." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Overall, material inflation is now clearly upon us." (Paper Products)
  • "Business is strong and looking up." (Furniture & Related Products)
  • "Opportunities for new business seem more abundant now. Orders and RFQs increasing." (Nonmetallic Mineral Products)

While the index’s six-month streak of growth came to an end, the PMI has been above the growth level of 50% 11 of the last 12 months. 

Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,