While economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in September, and the overall economy grew for the 113th consecutive month, supply chains continue to struggle according to the Oct. 1 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.
The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 61.1%, a 3.4-percentage point decrease from the August reading of 64.5%.
The September PMI registered 59.8%, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the August reading of 61.3%.
The report found that inputs — expressed as supplier deliveries (decreased), inventories and imports — improved compared to the previous month’s activity. But continued supply chain inefficiencies led to an increased consumption of inventory and a slight expansion of imports, which adequately supported production output. Lead-time extensions, steel and aluminum disruptions, supplier labor issues, and transportation difficulties continue to limit potential, but at more manageable levels.
“Export orders expanded, but four major industries are no longer contributing,” says by Timothy R. Fiore, of ISM. “Price pressure continues, but the index softened for the fourth straight month and dropped below 70 for the first time since December 2017. “Demand remains robust, but employment resources and supply chains continue to struggle, but to a lesser degree. Respondents are again overwhelmingly concerned about tariff-related activity, including how reciprocal tariffs will impact company revenue and current manufacturing locations.”
Highlights of the survey include:
- The New Orders Index registered 61.8%, a decrease of 3.3 percentage points from the August reading of 65.1%.
-The Production Index registered 63.9%, a 0.6 percentage point increase compared to the August reading of 63.3%.
- The Employment Index registered 58.8%, an increase of 0.3 percentage point from the August reading of 58.5%.
- The Inventories Index registered 53.3%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the August reading of 55.4%.
-The Prices Index registered 66.9 % in September, a 5.2-percentage point decrease from the August reading of 72.1%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 31st consecutive month.
What Respondents to the Survey are Saying:
“The market is in a state of chaos with the latest round of tariffs. As an electronics original equipment manufacturer, our component prices have been impacted almost across the board. The tariffs have caused a mass rush to buy up inventories of affected products in order to minimize the long-term financial impact. This, in turn, is causing market constraints, which further drive up the cost and increase lead times.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
“Tariffs starting to take a bite out of profitability.” (Chemical Products)
“Business is strong and relatively stable. Tariffs are putting pressure on Chinese imports. Labor rates are increasing as it is very difficult to find help.” (Furniture & Related Products)
"The economy's strength is holding [and] outlook for the industry is positive, although continuing margin compression in consumer packaged goods is restricting general growth momentum from the greater economy.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
“Still extremely strong through November; starting to see a decline for steel prices for December.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
“General available capacity at suppliers continues to decrease, creating supply issues.” (Machinery)
“Tariffs are creating a drag on some of our export opportunities.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)
“Sourcing hourly workers for remote locations continues to be a challenge for both full-time and part-time opportunities. Have implemented a wide variety of recruiting techniques and suppliers to aid us in sourcing this hard-to-find talent.” (Paper Products)
"Orders are coming in, but from a limited number of customers. The future looks very promising.” (Primary Metals)
“Suppliers are impacted by China tariffs, [which is] delaying or cancelling manufacturing transfer projects.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)