Economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in March for the fourth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 46th consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business issued April 1 by the Institute for Supply Management. The report is based on data compiled from U.S. manufacturing purchasing and supply executives nationwide, including purchasing, new orders, production, employment, and price indices.

The ISM PMI (purchasing managers index) registered 51.3 percent, a decrease of 2.9 percentage points from February's reading of 54.2 percent, indicating expansion in U.S. manufacturing for the fourth consecutive month, but at a slower rate.

Both the New Orders and Production Indexes reflected growth in March compared to February, albeit at slower rates, registering 51.4 and 52.2 percent, respectively.
The Employment Index registered 54.2, an increase of 1.6 percentage points compared to February's reading of 52.6 percent. The Prices Index decreased 7 percentage points to 54.5, and the list of commodities up in price reflected far fewer items than in February. In addition, the Backlog of Orders, Exports and Imports Indexes all grew in March.

Of the 18 U.S. manufacturing industries, 14 are reporting growth in March in the following order: Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Fabricated Metal Products; Paper Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Transportation Equipment; Printing & Related Support Activities; Primary Metals; and Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The three industries reporting contraction in March are: Petroleum & Coal Products; Chemical Products; and Machinery.

U.S. Manufacturing