The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank reported rebounding manufacturing activity in March, much like was reported in similar surveys from its regional peers in New York and Philadelphia. The composite index of general business activity jumped from -4 in February to 22 in March, its highest monthly gain in nearly six years. After contracting in February, new orders (up from -6 to 24), shipments (up from -11 to 27) and capacity utilization (up from -5 to 17) each expanded strongly in March. Hiring (up from 9 to 11) and the average workweek (up from 5 to 16) also improved for the month. As such, this report was reassuring, offering a sign that manufacturing in the district was beginning to stabilize after months of weakness due to global headwinds. Read More
The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that new housing starts rose 5.2 percent, up from an annualized 1,120,000 in January to 1,178,000 in February. The January starts figure was originally estimated to be 1,099,000 units; therefore, the decline from bad weather in the prior report was not as bad as originally thought. More importantly, these data continue to reflect a housing market that is making slow-but-steady progress in the right direction, particularly over the longer-term. Along those lines, new housing starts have jumped 30.9 percent year-over-year, up from just 900,000 units seen in February 2015. The bulk of that growth stemmed from the single-family segment, which has increased 37.0 percent year-over-year. Read More
Panelists will dispel common misconceptions about trade and trade agreements and equip viewers with knowledge to make the case for trade policies that will grow manufacturing in the United States.
The panel will feature:
- Linda Dempsey, NAM vice president of international economic affairs;
- Ambassador Carla Hills, former U.S. trade representative;
- Tony Fratto, founding partner at Hamilton Place Strategies; and
- Chuck Wetherington, president at BTE Technologies.
Your voice can help advance manufacturers’ priorities on trade. Tune in and follow along at #MFGTrade and send us your trade questions!
The economy remains a mixed bag for manufacturers, with job numbers drawing back for the second month this year. The numbers indicate obstacles still stand in the way of unleashing the economic potential of the manufacturing sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing employment declined by 16,000 in February, somewhat offsetting the 23,000-worker increase observed in January. In addition, data revisions subtracted another 13,000 workers from the December and January original estimates. As such, manufacturers have added just 7,000 net new workers year-to-date through the first two months of 2016, a sluggish pace that speaks to the ongoing challenges seen in the sector from the strong U.S. dollar and falling commodity prices. Read More
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said that manufacturing activity has now contracted for five straight months. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index increased from 48.2 in January to 49.5 in February but remained below the important threshold of 50 which would indicate the start of expansion. In that regard, this report continued to show weaker-than-desired data for manufacturers, with the sector challenged by global headwinds and reduced commodity prices. Indeed, exports (down from 47.0 to 46.5) remained in contraction territory, hurt by the strong dollar and economic softness for manufacturing goods to key markets.
Yet, this latest release also offered some signs of encouragement. For one thing, the headline index was higher than the consensus expectation of roughly 48.5, indicating that respondents were perhaps less downbeat than predicted. At the same time, some of the underlying data reflect stabilization in activity from prior months. For instance, new orders (unchanged at 51.5) and production (up from 50.2 to 52.8) have now expanded for two consecutive months, with the latter growing at its fastest pace since August. Moreover, the pace of decline for hiring (up from 45.9 to 48.5) slowed in February, and pricing pressures (up from 33.5 to 38.5) remain virtually nonexistent.
This does not mean that manufacturing’s struggles are over, but this report does offer a glimpse of cautious optimism, with the ISM data coming in a bit stronger than anticipated. Even with this finding, manufacturers remain anxious in their economic outlook overall, and other reports continue to highlight softness in the marketplace. With that in mind, manufacturing leaders remain focused on implementing pro-manufacturing policies, including those outlined in the NAM’s “Competing to Win” document in this all-important election year and beyond.
Linda Kelly, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), was recently selected to join the prestigious Advisory Board for Georgetown Law’s Corporate Counsel Institute.
“Congratulations to Linda,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Manufacturers are fortunate to have such an accomplished attorney fighting on our side, and I know Georgetown Law’s Corporate Counsel Institute will be well-served by Linda’s immense talent and expertise.”
Linda Kelly, and fellow general counsels from America’s leading companies, will participate in the 2016 Corporate Counsel Institute on March 10 and 11. The event provides advisory board members with an opportunity to connect with other legal thought leaders from around the country to discuss solutions to meet the toughest challenges of the year to come.
Georgetown Law’s corporate counsel program is one of the most respected in the country. Past speakers have included Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, federal agency chairpersons, current and former solicitors general and leading corporate law professors from America’s top law schools.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that personal spending increased 0.5 percent in January, its strongest monthly gain since May. This represented a nice improvement after personal consumption expenditures rose just 0.1 percent in December. The jump in January stemmed mostly from an increase in durable goods spending, up 1.2 percent, with nondurable goods purchases unchanged in this report. Spending on services were also higher, up 0.6 percent. On a year-over-year basis, personal spending has risen 4.2 percent since January 2015, up from 3.2 percent in the prior release. This suggests that personal spending has rebounded somewhat after slowing at the end of 2015, bottoming out at 3.0 percent in October. Read More
Readers of Shopfloor will be familiar with the story of the “legal fraud of the century.” In this real-life legal drama, activists, the government of Ecuador and corrupt lawyers colluded to bring a lawsuit against Chevron that is extortionate and fraud-ridden. They have spent years using misleading claims and images to try to force the company to pay billions of dollars in environmental damages for which it is not responsible.
Chevron has released a powerful new video showing that it’s the Ecuadorean government that bears true responsibility for environmental and social conditions in the Amazon. Chevron is calling on Ecuador to keep its promise and clean up the Amazon, rather than trying to blame others.
The Conference Board said that consumer sentiment waned again in February, with Americans nervous in their economic outlook. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped from 97.8 in January to 92.2 in February, its lowest level in seven months. Since June of last year, these data have been highly volatile, ranging from a low of 91.0 in July to 102.6 in September, with the latter being the second-highest reading since the recession. (The index peaked at a post-recessionary high of 103.8 in January 2015.) The high degree of change from month-to-month indicates just how anxious the public is right now, with recent financial market volatility likely dampening perceptions in this report. In February, consumers were less upbeat in their assessments of the current (down from 85.3 to 78.9) and future (down from 116.6 to 112.1) economy.
Respondents to this survey are often swayed by pocketbook issues, including worries about labor market prospects, and this release is no different. The percentage of those completing the survey suggesting that jobs were “plentiful” declined from 23.0 percent to 22.1 percent, with those saying that jobs were “hard to get” rising from 23.6 percent to 24.2 percent. In a similar fashion, the percent expecting their incomes to increase in the coming months decreased from 18.6 percent to 17.2 percent, with those predicting declining incomes increasing from 10.7 percent to 12.5 percent.
Manufacturing executives gathered in North Carolina today for a panel discussion on innovation, the future of manufacturing and key policies. The panel was hosted by John Ferriola, chairman, CEO and president of Nucor Corporation; other participants included Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO; Matt Barr, chairman and CEO of Carolina Color Corporation; and John Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., and NAM Board vice chair.
Heading into a presidential election year, panelists discussed policies that candidates should be prioritizing to promote growth in the manufacturing sector. Last week, the NAM released a roadmap for political candidates, “Competing to Win: Manufacturers’ Agenda for Economic Growth and American Exceptionalism.”