The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing labor productivity rose 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, slower than the 2.0 percent gain in the fourth quarter of 2016. Nonetheless, it was the second straight quarterly increase in productivity in the sector, with fourth quarter activity rebounding from declines in each of the two prior quarters. In this release, output per worker in manufacturing increased 2.8 percent, its fastest quarterly rate since the second quarter of 2014. Unit labor costs increased 2.1 percent. There were large sectoral differences in the data, with labor productivity for durable goods firms down 1.1 percent in the first quarter but up 3.2 percent for nondurable goods manufacturers. As a result, unit labor costs rose 2.5 percent and 1.3 percent for durable and nondurable goods businesses in the quarter, respectively. Read More
The Federal Reserve said that manufacturing production edged down slightly in November, off 0.1 percent, after experiencing gains in both September and October. Manufacturers have struggled to increase demand over the past couple years, with a strong dollar and global headwinds dampening overall activity, but recent sentiment surveys – including the most recent one from the NAM – have reflected a rebound in activity. In that light, the latest production data serve as a disappointment, continuing to highlight ongoing struggles for the sector, even as other segments have seen progress. Along those lines, manufacturing production has risen just 0.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, suggesting essentially stagnant growth over the past 12 months. Manufacturing capacity utilization was also lower for the month, down from 74.9 percent to 74.8 percent. That was off from the 75.3 percent rate observed one year ago. Read More
According to the Federal Reserve, manufacturing production fell by 0.4 percent in August. After two straight months of gains, this news was disappointing, even as it mirrored weaknesses found in other economic indicators in August. Moreover, manufacturing production has declined over the past 12 months, the first year-over-year decline since December. In addition, manufacturing capacity utilization decreased from 75.2 percent to 74.8 percent, a three-month low. As such, this report highlights the tremendous challenges in the sector. Nonetheless, manufacturers continue to be cautiously hopeful for increased activity over the coming months, as noted in our latest survey.
The current softness, though, means that policymakers need to focus more on priorities that will grow the economy and increase competitiveness. It also suggests that the Federal Reserve is likely to wait to raise rates. Along those lines, 45.5 percent of respondents to our survey felt that the Federal Open Market Committee would hike rates in December.
U.S. manufacturing activity grew at the slowest pace since September 2009, according to preliminary figures from Markit. The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI decreased from 51.5 in March to 50.8 in April. In general, the strong dollar and weaknesses abroad have dampened international demand and overall sentiment over the course of the past year. Manufacturing activity has decelerated significantly over the past 12 months, with the main PMI number down from 54.2 in April 2015. In this report, output (down from 51.4 to 50.3) and hiring (down from 52.1 to 50.2) each pulled back to a near-standstill, with exports (down from 50.0 to 48.5) contracting for the second time in the past three months. On the other hand, new orders (down from 52.8 to 52.0) continued to expand modestly, but with some easing for the month.
As such, this report stands in sharp contrast to the better-than-expected sentiment seen in the competing data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). In that release, new orders and output each grew surprisingly strong in March, lifting its manufacturing PMI value above 50 for the first time since August. It provided some encouragement after months of softness, even as other economic data – including this one from Markit – continue to suggest ongoing challenges. Read More
The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI fell to its slowest pace in more than three years in February, a sign that challenges hitting the sector have not yet abated. The composite measure declined from 52.4 in January to 51.0 in February, and in general, manufacturing activity has decelerated over the course of the past year, down from 55.1 in February 2015. On the positive side, new orders (down from 53.6 to 51.7), output (down from 53.2 to 51.3) and employment (down from 52.8 to 51.5) expanded somewhat, just not as far as we might prefer, with the rate of growth slowing in February for each. On the other hand, exports (down from 51.1 to 49.1) returned to negative territory after two months of progress, a sign of just how much the stronger dollar and weaknesses abroad have dampened international demand and overall sentiment. Read More
Manufacturing production rose 0.5 percent in January, rebounding from softness in the second half of 2015 and providing a little encouragement at the start of the new year. Manufacturing activity remains softer-than-desired, particularly given difficulties in growing export demand and with falling commodity prices. Over the course of the past year, manufacturing output has increased 1.2 percent, representing some progress from the 0.5 percent pace observed in the prior report. Yet, production has slowed considerably since January 2015, when the year-over-year rate was a more-robust 4.3 percent. Capacity utilization for manufacturers rose from 75.8 percent in December to 76.1 percent in January. Read More
The Caixin Flash China General Manufacturing PMI declined from 47.8 in July to 47.1 in August, its lowest level since March 2009. The Chinese manufacturing sector continues to struggle, with its PMI data contracting for the sixth consecutive month. Manufacturing activity was down across-the-board, including new orders (down from 47.2 to 46.3), output (down from 47.1 to 46.6), exports (down from 46.9 to 46.0) and employment (down from 47.2 to 46.0). The new orders figure was also at a post-recessionary low. Indeed, a number of economic statistics continue to reflect decelerating activity levels, particularly relative to the paces observed earlier in the year or last year. These include industrial production, fixed asset investments and retail sales. With that in mind, the Bank of China has devalued the yuan, down 2.9 percent in the past two weeks, and the Shanghai Composite Stock Market Index has plummeted more than 32 percent since June 12. Such sharp moves have prompted growth worries in financial markets around the world. Read More
The Caixin Flash China General Manufacturing PMI dropped from 49.4 in June to 48.2 in July, its lowest level since April 2014. Chinese manufacturing activity has now contracted in 7 of the past 8 months, continuing a deceleration trend in that nation’s economy. Indeed, all of the PMI subcomponents were in negative territory in July, with most of them slipping further. This included new orders (down from 50.3 to 48.1), output (down from 49.7 to 47.3) and exports (down from 50.3 to 46.6), with domestic and foreign demand declining once again after stabilizing slightly in June. Employment (up from 46.6 to 47.4) fell at a slower pace for the month, and yet, hiring has now decreased in 27 of the past 28 months. These data are consistent with recent economic indicators from China, which have reflected slower growth, particularly relative to the rates experienced at the end of last year or earlier. Read More
The Markit Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI increased from 52.2 in May to 52.5 in June, its fastest pace of growth since April 2014. (The composite measure, which adds in services, rose to a 49-month high.) For manufacturers, output (up from 53.3 to 53.5) and employment (up from 51.6 to 52.0) both edged higher, with each expanding modestly. At the same time, there were slight easings for new orders (down from 52.7 to 52.5) and exports (down from 53.2 to 52.6). Nonetheless, the underlying story is a positive one, with Europe making significant progress in recent months and brushing off possible risks from Greece. With that said, robust growth continues to be elusive, with real GDP up 0.4 percent in the first quarter and industrial production up just 0.1 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Eurozone grew 1.0 percent, with industrial output up 0.8 percent. Read More
The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI declined from 54.1 in April to 53.8 in May, easing to its lowest level since October 2013. It was the second straight monthly deceleration in manufacturing activity, and the slowing in May reflected slower growth in new orders (down from 55.3 to 54.2) and output (down from 55.3 to 55.0). Exports (up from 48.8 to 49.6) continued to contract, but declined by less for the month. On the positive side, hiring (up from 53.7 to 54.3) accelerated to its fastest rate in six months. Moreover, even with some weakening in sentiment, the measures for demand and production growth for U.S. manufacturers remains decent overall. Read More