Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in April for the 28th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 71st consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business issued May 1, by the Institute for Supply Management.

The report is based on data compiled from purchasing and supply executives nationwide, including new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, inventories, prices, backlog of orders, exports and imports.

The April PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index) registered 51.5 percent, the same reading as in March.

The New Orders Index registered 53.5 percent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the reading of 51.8 percent in March.

The Production Index registered 56 percent, 2.2 percentage points above the March reading of 53.8 percent.

The Employment Index registered 48.3 percent, 1.7 percentage points below the March reading of 50 percent, reflecting contracting employment levels from March.

Inventories of raw materials registered 49.5 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the March reading of 51.5 percent.

The Prices Index registered 40.5 percent, 1.5 percentage points above the March reading of 39 percent, indicating lower raw materials prices for the sixth consecutive month.

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While the March and April PMI were equal, both registering 51.5 percent, 15 of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in April while only 10 industries reported growth in March, indicating a broader distribution of growth in April among the 18 industries.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 15 are reporting growth in April in the following order: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Wood Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Paper Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Machinery; Transportation Equipment; Textile Mills; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Chemical Products; and Primary Metals.

The two industries reporting contraction in April are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

The next Manufacturing ISM Report On Business featuring the May 2015 data will be released June 1, 2015.