March Manufacturing Went Out Like a Lion
Great numbers, Phil, but maybe cut back on the caffeine? (iStock/SerrNovik)
1983 was the year Microsoft introduced Word, tennis great Björn Borg announced his retirement (at age 26) and you could purchase a new Ford Mustang for about $6,500. It was also the last year the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing manager index (PMI) had registered as highly as it did last month.
At 64.7%, the March 2021 manufacturing PMI “continued to indicate strong sector expansion and U.S. economic growth,” said Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “All five subindexes that directly factor into the Manufacturing PMI® were in growth territory and at higher levels compared to February. All of the six biggest manufacturing industries expanded.”
March’s PMI topped February’s score, which was 60.8%. “Manufacturing performed well for the 10th straight month, with demand, consumption and inputs registering strong growth compared to February,” Fiore noted. “Labor market difficulties at panelists’ companies and their suppliers persist. End-user lead times [for refilling customers’ inventories] are extending due to very high demand and output restrictions as supply chains continue to recover from COVID-19 impacts.”
Respondents to ISM’s survey generally expressed a sunny outlook on the future, but also stressed that supply chain issues continue to hamper their operations. Several noted they were still recovering from winter storms that disrupted suppliers in the South.
“While the storms slowed our supply chain down, we did what we could to meet orders,” commented someone in the computer and electronic products sector. “We feel that in the coming month, we will be able to make up the misses as well as continue strong deliveries in the next month. As consumer confidence grows and the academia market reopens globally, we do expect orders to increase.”
“Business bottomed out in February,” said a member of the furniture manufacturing industry. “We are expecting steady improvement through the end of the year. Inflation and material availability, along with logistics, are major concerns.”
A petrochemicals professional was especially optimistic, perhaps anticipating Americans hitting the roads again (but not in $6,500 new cars, alas): “The spring and summer months look great for the national oil markets.”
By the way, the PMI reached 69.9% in December 1983. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was the top-selling album that year, in case you were wondering.
Click here for more on the latest PMI.