Furniture feels pinch as manufacturing contracts
December 1, 2022 | 12:44 pm CST
Lane Furniture's Cottage Charm Queen Panel Bed

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in November for the first time since May 2020 after 29 consecutive months of growth, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business.

Furniture and wood products industries felt some of the worst contraction. The 12 industries reporting contraction in November, in the following order, are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Wood Products; Paper Products; Textile Mills; Fabricated Metal Products; Furniture & Related Products; Chemical Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Machinery; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components.

The report was issued today by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

"The November Manufacturing PMI® registered 49 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than the 50.2 percent recorded in October. Regarding the overall economy, this figure indicates expansion for the 30th month in a row after contraction in April and May 2020. The Manufacturing PMI® figure is the lowest since May 2020, when it registered 43.5 percent. The New Orders Index remained in contraction territory at 47.2 percent, 2 percentage points lower than the 49.2 percent recorded in October. The Production Index reading of 51.5 percent is a 0.8-percentage point decrease compared to October's figure of 52.3 percent.

The Prices Index registered 43 percent, down 3.6 percentage points compared to the October figure of 46.6 percent; this is the index's lowest reading since May 2020 (40.8 percent). The Backlog of Orders Index registered 40 percent, 5.3 percentage points lower than the October reading of 45.3 percent. The Employment Index returned to contraction territory (48.4 percent, down 1.6 percentage points) after being unchanged in October at 50 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index reading of 47.2 percent is 0.4 percentage point higher than the October figure of 46.8 percent. Except for last month, the Supplier Deliveries Index hasn't been at this level since February 2012 (47 percent). The Inventories Index registered 50.9 percent, 1.6 percentage points lower than the October reading of 52.5 percent. The New Export Orders Index reading of 48.4 percent is up 1.9 percentage points compared to October's figure of 46.5 percent. The Imports Index dropped into contraction territory at 46.6 percent, 4.2 percentage points below the October reading of 50.8 percent."

Fiore continued, "The U.S. manufacturing sector dipped into contraction, with the Manufacturing PMI® at its lowest level since the coronavirus pandemic recovery began. With Business Survey Committee panelists reporting softening new order rates over the previous six months, the November composite index reading reflects companies' preparing for future lower output. Demand eased, with the (1) New Orders Index remaining in contraction territory, (2) New Export Orders Index below 50 percent for a fourth consecutive month, (3) Customers' Inventories Index effectively in 'just right' territory, climbing 7.1 percentage points, and (4) Backlog of Orders Index moving deeper into contraction. Output/Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) declined month over month, with a combined negative 2.4-percentage point impact on the Manufacturing PMI® calculation. The Employment Index moved back into contraction, and the Production Index decreased but still remained in modest growth territory. Panelists' companies confirm that they are continuing to manage head counts through a combination of hiring freezes, employee attrition, and now layoffs. Inputs — defined as supplier deliveries, inventories, prices and imports — mostly accommodated future demand growth. The Supplier Deliveries Index indicated faster deliveries, and the Inventories Index expanded at a slower rate as panelists' companies continued to manage the total supply chain inventory. The Prices Index decreased for the ninth consecutive month, falling deeper into contraction territory.

"Of the six biggest manufacturing industries, two — Petroleum & Coal Products; and Transportation Equipment — registered weak-to-moderate growth in November.

"Manufacturing contracted in November after expanding for 29 straight months. Panelists' companies continue to judiciously manage hiring, other than October 2022, the month-over-month supplier delivery performance was the best since February 2012 when it registered 47 percent, and material lead times declined approximately 9 percent from the prior month, approximately 18 percent over the last four months. Managing head counts and total supply chain inventories remain primary goals. Order backlogs, prices and now lead times are declining rapidly, which should bring buyers and sellers back to the table to refill order books based on 2023 business plans."

Six manufacturing industries reported growth in November, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Primary Metals; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Petroleum & Coal Products; and Transportation Equipment. The 12 industries reporting contraction in November, in the following order, are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Wood Products; Paper Products; Textile Mills; Fabricated Metal Products; Furniture & Related Products; Chemical Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Machinery; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components.


Manufacturing at a glance
The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in November, as the Manufacturing PMI® registered 49 percent, 1.2 percentage points below the reading of 50.2 percent recorded in October. "After five months of flat or marginally positive change, the decrease last month took the Manufacturing PMI® into contraction. Of the five subindexes that directly factor into the Manufacturing PMI®, two (Production and Inventories) were in growth territory, though both eased. The PMI® registered its lowest level since May 2020, when the index was 43.5 percent. Of the six biggest manufacturing industries, two — Petroleum & Coal Products; and Transportation Equipment — registered weak-to-moderate growth in November. The Production Index decreased 0.8 percentage point, inching closer to contraction territory. Supply chain congestion continued to ease, indicated by the Supplier Deliveries Index showing faster deliveries. Only two of the 10 subindexes were positive for the period," says Fiore. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing sector is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

A Manufacturing PMI® above 48.7 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the November Manufacturing PMI® indicates the overall economy grew in November for the 30th consecutive month following contraction in April and May 2020. "The past relationship between the Manufacturing PMI® and the overall economy indicates that the Manufacturing PMI® for November (49 percent) corresponds to a 0.1-percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis," says Fiore.

The last 12 months
ISM's New Orders Index contracted for the third consecutive month in November, registering 47.2 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points compared to the 49.2 percent reported in October. "None of the six largest manufacturing sectors reported increased new orders. Price and lead time declines as well as backlog contraction should encourage buyers to reenter the market and sales agents to be more aggressive in seeking new business," says Fiore. (For more on lead times, see the Buying Policy section of this report.) A New Orders Index above 52.9 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Census Bureau's series on manufacturing orders (in constant 2000 dollars).

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, only one reported growth in new orders in November: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products. Fourteen industries reported a decline in new orders in November, in the following order: Wood Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Paper Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Plastics & Rubber Products; Chemical Products; Transportation Equipment; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

Production
The Production Index registered 51.5 percent in November, 0.8 percentage point lower than the October reading of 52.3 percent, indicating growth for the 30th consecutive month. "Of the top six industries, only two — Computer & Electronic Products; and Transportation Equipment — expanded in November. Materials and labor availability continue to improve, as panelists' companies begin to significantly reduce their backlogs of overdue orders," says Fiore. An index above 52.4 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Federal Reserve Board's Industrial Production figures.

The seven industries reporting growth in production during the month of November — listed in order — are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Transportation Equipment; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components. The seven industries reporting a decrease in production in November — in the following order — are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Textile Mills; Furniture & Related Products; Machinery; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Fabricated Metal Products.

ISM's Employment Index registered 48.4 percent in November, 1.6 percentage points lower than the October reading of 50 percent. "The index indicated employment contracted after being unchanged for one month. Of the six big manufacturing sectors, only two (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Machinery) expanded. Labor management sentiment continued to shift, with a number of panelists' companies reducing employment levels through hiring freezes, attrition, and now layoffs. In November, layoffs were mentioned in 14 percent of employment comments, up from 6 percent in October. Turnover rates remained consistent, with 30 percent of comments citing backfill and retirement issues, generally the same rate since September. For those companies expanding their workforces, comments continue to support an improving hiring environment," says Fiore. An Employment Index above 50.5 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on manufacturing employment.

Of 18 manufacturing industries, seven reported employment growth in November, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Primary Metals; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Plastics & Rubber Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Machinery. The five industries reporting a decrease in employment in November are: Textile Mills; Paper Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Chemical Products; and Fabricated Metal Products. Six industries reported no change in employment in November compared to October.

The delivery performance of suppliers to manufacturing organizations was faster for a second straight month in November, as the Supplier Deliveries Index registered 47.2 percent, 0.4 percentage point higher than the 46.8 percent reported in October. Prior to October, the last reading under 50 percent was in February 2016 (49.6 percent); this is the first time the index has spent consecutive months in "faster" territory since October-December 2015. Of the top six manufacturing industries, one (Petroleum & Coal Products) reported slower deliveries. "Although a touch slower than the previous month, the November reading indicates the best month-over-month supplier deliveries performance in more than a decade (since February 2012, when the index registered 47 percent). In November, 86.1 percent of panelists reported 'same' or 'faster' delivery times. Panelists' comments overwhelmingly confirmed that suppliers performed better in November compared to previous months," says Fiore. A reading below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries, while a reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries.

Six of 18 manufacturing industries reported slower supplier deliveries in November, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Textile Mills; Petroleum & Coal Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Primary Metals; and Miscellaneous Manufacturing. The 11 industries reporting faster supplier deliveries in November as compared to October — in the following order — are: Wood Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Paper Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Furniture & Related Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Chemical Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Machinery; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Transportation Equipment.

The Inventories Index registered 50.9 percent in November, 1.6 percentage points lower than the 52.5 percent reported for October. "Manufacturing inventories expanded at a slower rate compared to October. The index recorded its lowest level since July 2021, when it registered 49.1 percent. Of the six big manufacturing industries, four (Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Transportation Equipment; and Chemical Products) increased manufacturing raw material inventories in November. Panelists' companies continue their efforts to reduce their total supply chain inventories, indicated by the contraction in new orders, slow expansion in manufacturing inventorie,s and the 'just right' level of customers' inventories," says Fiore. An Inventories Index greater than 44.4 percent, over time, is generally consistent with expansion in the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) figures on overall manufacturing inventories (in chained 2000 dollars).

Of 18 manufacturing industries, the eight reporting higher inventories in November — in the following order — are Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Primary Metals; Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Transportation Equipment; and Chemical Products. The eight industries reporting contracting inventories in November — in the following order — are Printing & Related Support Activities; Wood Products; Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Paper Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; and Plastics & Rubber Products.
 

ISM's Customers' Inventories Index registered 48.7 percent in November, 7.1 percentage points higher than the 41.6 percent reported for October. "Customers' inventory levels are considered essentially 'just right.' The index recorded its highest level since April 2020 (48.8 percent). The current index level is no longer providing positive support to future manufacturing expansion," says Fiore.

Six industries reported customers' inventories as too high in November, in the following order: Textile Mills; Paper Products; Wood Products; Primary Metals; Chemical Products; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components. The eight industries reporting customers' inventories as too low in November — listed in order — ar: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Machinery; Petroleum & Coal Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Transportation Equipment; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Computer & Electronic Products; and Fabricated Metal Products.

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