ISM Manufacturing Index Growth Remains Slow

The ISM manufacturing index was unchanged at 51.5 points in April. Index readings above 50 indicate expansion in the manufacturing economy. Respondents again cited port delays and challenges finding qualified labor to fill positions. The transportation sector noted that North American business is flat but softening slightly globally. Of the 18 manufacturing industries indexed, 15 reported growth, up from 10 in March.

The index for new orders increased 1.7 points, while inventories declined 2 points. The gap between these two indices increased to 4 points, indicating that inventories are not keeping up with current demand.

The employment index fell to 48.3, down from 50 in March. The April reading is the lowest since September 2009 when the index registered 47.8. Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported employment growth while the textile mill, computer and electronic products, and chemical products industries reported decreases in employment.

Export orders expanded for the first time in 3 months, registering 51.5 in April, up from 47.5 in March. The prices index rose to 40.5, up 1.5 points from March, marking the 6th consecutive month of raw material prices decreasing. Production increased 2.2 points, growing for the 32nd consecutive month.