The March Manufacturing PMI registered 46.3%, 1.4 percentage point lower than the 47.7% recorded in February, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in March for the fifth consecutive month following a 28-month period of growth, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.

One company operating in the apparel, leather & allied products sector, said: “Business is still slow overall. Customers have not yet picked up orders at pre-pandemic levels.”

Apparel, Leather & Allied Products was also one of the sectors reporting contracting inventories for the month of March.

“The US manufacturing sector contracted again, with the Manufacturing PMI declining compared to the previous month,” said Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

“With Business Survey Committee panellists reporting softening new order rates over the previous 10 months, the March composite index reading reflects companies continuing to slow outputs to better match demand for the first half of 2023 and prepare for growth in the late summer/early fall period.”

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Some highlights from the Index:

  • The Manufacturing PMI is at its lowest level since May 2020, when it registered 43.5%.
  • The New Orders Index remained in contraction territory at 44.3%, 2.7 percentage points lower than the figure of 47% recorded in February.
  • The Production Index reading of 47.8% is a 0.5-percentage point increase compared to February’s figure of 47.3%.
  • The Prices Index registered 49.2%, down 2.1 percentage points compared to the February figure of 51.3%.
  • The Backlog of Orders Index registered 43.9%, 1.2 percentage points lower than the February reading of 45.1%. 

“New order rates remain sluggish as panelists become more concerned about when manufacturing growth will resume,” Fiore continued. “Supply chains are now ready for growth, as panelists’ comments support reduced lead times for their more important purchases. Price instability remains, but future demand is uncertain as companies continue to work down overdue deliveries and backlogs.”