Manufacturing PMI continues contraction
October 2, 2023 | 11:46 am CDT
Lean manufacturing

The Manufacturing PMI registered 49 percent in September, 1.4 percentage points higher than the 47.6 percent recorded in August.

Photo By Institute for Supply Management (ISM)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in September for the 11th consecutive month following a 28-month period of growth, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.

Furniture & Related Products and Wood Products were two of the 11 industries that contracted in September. 

Of the six biggest manufacturing industries, two — Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Petroleum & Coal Products — registered growth in September.

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 Manufacturing PMI registered 49 percent in September, 1.4 percentage points higher than the 47.6 percent recorded in August," he said. "The overall economy expanded weakly after nine months of contraction following a 30-month period of expansion."

A Manufacturing PMI above 48.7 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy.

Other highlights, included:Manufacturing-PMI

  • The New Orders Index remained in contraction territory at 49.2 percent, 2.4 percentage points higher than the figure of 46.8 percent recorded in August.
  • The Production Index reading of 52.5 percent is a 2.5-percentage point increase compared to August's figure of 50 percent.
  • The Prices Index registered 43.8 percent, down 4.6 percentage points compared to the reading of 48.4 percent in August.
  • The Backlog of Orders Index registered 42.4 percent, 1.7 percentage points lower than the August reading of 44.1 percent.
  • The Employment Index registered 51.2 percent, up 2.7 percentage points from the 48.5 percent reported in August.
  • The Supplier Deliveries Index figure of 46.4 percent is 2.2 percentage points lower than the 48.6 percent recorded in August. (Supplier Deliveries is the only ISM Report On Business index that is inversed; a reading of above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, which is typical as the economy improves and customer demand increases.)

"The Inventories Index increased by 1.8 percentage points to 45.8 percent; the August reading was 44 percent. The New Export Orders Index reading of 47.4 percent is 0.9 percentage point higher than August's figure of 46.5 percent. The Imports Index remained in contraction territory, registering 48.2 percent, 0.2 percentage point higher than the 48 percent reported in August."

Fiore continued, "The U.S. manufacturing sector continued its contraction trend but at a slower rate, recording its best performance since November 2022, when the PMI also registered 49 percent. Companies are still managing outputs appropriately as order softness continues, but the month-over-month PMI improvement in September is a clear positive."

Demand eased marginally, with the (1) New Orders Index contracting, though at a slower rate, (2) New Export Orders Index continuing in contraction territory but with a marginal increase, and (3) Backlog of Orders Index declining. The Customers' Inventories Index reading indicated improved supply chain efficiency, as output improved and customers' inventories continued to decline. Output/Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) was positive, with a combined 5.2-percentage point upward impact on the Manufacturing PMI calculation.

Panelists' companies improved production compared to August and continued to manage head counts, primarily through attrition and hiring freezes. Inputs — defined as supplier deliveries, inventories, prices and imports — continued to accommodate future demand growth. The Supplier Deliveries Index indicated faster deliveries for the 12th straight month, at a faster rate compared to August, and the Inventories Index remained in contraction territory, but improved month over month. The Prices Index remained in 'decreasing' territory, 4.6 percentage points lower than the August reading, signifying a return to price reductions, but energy costs in August and September could possibly affect future material costs. Manufacturing supplier lead times continue to decrease, but at a slow pace.

"Demand remains soft, but production execution improved compared to August as panelists' companies prepared for the fourth quarter and the close of the fiscal year. Suppliers continue to have capacity. Seventy-one percent of manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP) contracted in September, up from 62 percent in August. More importantly, the share of sector GDP registering a composite PMI calculation at or below 45 percent — a good barometer of overall manufacturing weakness — was 6 percent in September, compared to 15 percent in August and 25 percent in July, a clear positive," says Fiore.

The five manufacturing industries that reported growth in September are: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Textile Mills; Primary Metals; and Petroleum & Coal Products. The 11 industries reporting contraction in September — in the following order — are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Paper Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Wood Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Machinery; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Chemical Products; and Transportation Equipment.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).