Results and Implications of the Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management’s Report on Business for Q2 2020

On July 1, the Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released its latest Report on Business, a monthly publication that examines industry trends and statistics within the manufacturing sector. The composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) referenced below is compiled and used by the ISM to analyze the state of the economy and predict future growth or contraction based on five categories: New Orders, Production, Employment, Supplier Deliveries and Inventories. A PMI index over 50% indicates that the manufacturing environment is expanding. Here are the PMIs for each month in Q2 2020 and Q2 2019:

2020

2019

Month

PMI

Month

PMI

January

50.9

January

56.6

February

50.1

February

54.2

March

49.1

March

55.3

April

41.5

April

52.8

May

43.1

May

52.1

June

52.6

June

51.7

 

 

 

 

Average

47.9

Average

53.8

High

52.6

High

56.6

Low

41.5

Low

51.7

 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government-imposed shutdowns brought an end to 131 consecutive months of U.S. economic growth. As many of the stoppages came to an end in May and June, industry as a whole started to recover and now appears to be entering an expansion cycle. Panelists interviewed for this report, all manufacturing industry leaders, were more optimistic than in previous reports, offering 1.3 positive comments for every negative remark made. Of the 18 manufacturing industries reviewed, only four continued to note contraction: Transportation Equipment, Primary Metals, Fabricated Metal Products and Machinery.

New Orders increased from 31.8% in May to 56.4% in June, marking the largest month-to-month increase since records began in January 1948. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products (FBT) and Chemical Products saw the most significant growth. One FBT panelist noted a 62.5% increase in the industry as a whole from 2019. Fabricated Metal Products and Transportation Equipment, however, continued to see a decline in new orders.

Production experienced its largest increase since April 1952, increasing from 33.2% in May to 57.3% in June. Despite the significant increase for manufacturing as a whole, however, Primary Metals, Fabricated Metal Products and Transportation Equipment continued to face declines in production.

As one would expect, the relaxing of government-imposed shutdowns in May and June resulted in a significant increase in employment numbers. Civilian unemployment was running at about 3.5% at the beginning of 2020. At the height of the shutdowns, the rate reached nearly 15%, but by June had rebounded to 11.1%.

Some commodities, meanwhile, have experienced rollercoaster pricing in 2020, including aluminum, diesel fuel and steel products. Aluminum commodities, for instance, were trading at $1,804.35 per ton at the beginning of the year. Prices had dropped to only $1,465.65 per ton on April 8, but were back up to $1,619.75 per ton by June 30. Overall, prices on raw materials increased after four consecutive months of decline. May saw the Price index at only 40.8%, whereas June ended with the index at 51.3%.

Although the report paints a fairly positive picture, keep in mind that this rebound was spurred by the reopening of the economy and the loosing of restrictions. With ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, we may not have seen the end of government-mandated shutdowns, which will continue to pose threats to manufacturing as companies try to budget and plan for production in an uncertain market. Conversely, some industries have experienced significantly increased demand during the quarantine and while Americans continue to socially distance. This demand may not last when we finally go back to how life was and those industries will likely need to plan for decreases in demand.

For further information on the ISM Report on Business, visit their website.

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