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ISM: April 2022 Manufacturing PMI at 55.4%

May 3, 2022

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in April, with the overall economy achieving a 23rd consecutive month of growth

The report was issued by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

“The April Manufacturing PMI registered 55.4 percent, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points from the March reading of 57.1 percent. This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the 23rd month in a row after a contraction in April and May 2020. This is the lowest reading since July 2020 (53.9 percent). The New Orders Index registered 53.5 percent, down 0.3 percentage point compared to the March reading of 53.8 percent. The Production Index reading of 53.6 percent is a 0.9-percentage point decrease compared to March’s figure of 54.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 84.6 percent, down 2.5 percentage points compared to the March figure of 87.1 percent. The Backlog of Orders Index registered 56 percent, 4 percentage points lower than the March reading of 60 percent. The Employment Index figure of 50.9 percent is 5.4 percentage points lower than the 56.3 percent recorded in March. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 67.2 percent, an increase of 1.8 percentage points compared to the March figure of 65.4 percent. The Inventories Index registered 51.6 percent, 3.9 percentage points lower than the March reading of 55.5 percent. The New Export Orders Index reading of 52.7 percent is down 0.5 percentage point compared to March’s figure of 53.2 percent. The Imports Index registered 51.4 percent, a 0.4-percentage point decrease from the March reading of 51.8 percent.”

Fiore continues, “The U.S. manufacturing sector remains in a demand-driven, supply chain-constrained environment. In April, progress slowed in solving labor shortage problems at all tiers of the supply chain. Panelists reported higher rates of quits compared to previous months, with fewer panelists reporting improvement in meeting head-count targets. April saw a slight easing of prices expansion, but instability in global energy markets continues. Surcharge increase activity across all industry sectors continues. Panel sentiment remained strongly optimistic regarding demand, though the three positive growth comments for every cautious comment was down from March’s ratio of 6-to-1, Panelists continue to note supply chain and pricing issues as their biggest concerns. Demand expanded, with the (1) New Orders Index remaining in growth territory, supported by weaker growth of new export orders, (2) Customers’ Inventories Index remaining at a very low level and (3) Backlog of Orders Index continuing in respectable growth territory. Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) grew during the period, though at a slower rate, with a combined minus-6.3-percentage point change to the Manufacturing PMI® calculation. The Employment Index expanded for the eighth straight month; panelists indicated limited improvement in ability to hire, but challenges with turnover (quits and retirements) and resulting backfilling continue to plague efforts to adequately staff organizations, to a greater extent compared to March. Inputs — expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories, and imports — continued to constrain production expansion. The Supplier Deliveries Index indicated deliveries slowed at a faster rate in April, while the Inventories and Imports indexes grew at slower rates. The Prices Index increased for the 23rd consecutive month, at a slower rate compared to March.

“Five of the six biggest manufacturing industries — Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Transportation Equipment; and Chemical Products — registered moderate-to-strong growth in April.

“Manufacturing performed well for the 23rd straight month, with demand registering slower month-over-month growth (likely due to extended lead times and decades-high material price increases) and consumption softening (due to labor force constraints). Overseas partners are experiencing COVID-19 impacts, creating a near-term headwind for the U.S. manufacturing community. Fifteen percent of panelists’ general comments expressed concern about their Asian partners’ ability to deliver reliably in the summer months, up from 5 percent in March,” says Fiore.

Seventeen manufacturing industries reported growth in April, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Machinery; Plastics & Rubber Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Transportation Equipment; Printing & Related Support Activities; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Paper Products; Primary Metals; Furniture & Related Products; Chemical Products; Textile Mills; Fabricated Metal Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Wood Products. The only industry reporting a decrease in April compared to March is Petroleum & Coal Products.

WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING

  • “Tier-2 supplier shutdowns in Shanghai are causing a ripple effect for our suppliers in other parts of China. Long delays at ports, including in the U.S., are still providing supply challenges. Inflation is out of control. Fuel costs, and therefore freight costs, are leading the upward cycle. At some point, the economy must give way; it will be tough to have real growth with such pressure on costs. Despite the issues and poor outlook, business remains brisk.” [Chemical Products]
  • “Continued strong demand with improvements in the supply chain. Delays still exist, but supply issues are slowly improving. Cost increases in multiple categories.” [Transportation Equipment]
  • “Supply chain is still constrained, and prices continue to rise. We are focusing on ways to stay profitable while continuing to fill customer orders. Relationship management and strong negotiation skills are extremely important right now.” [Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products]
  • “New order entries are still very strong. Unfortunately, logistics issues have (not) yet improved, so lead times remain extended.” [Machinery]
  • “Due to electronic component supply chain issues, production output has been lower than normal. Backlog is growing due to the supply chain issues. New order sales are steady, except international orders are lower.” [Fabricated Metal Products]
  • “Business is strong. Backlog continues to grow due to new orders and inconsistent supply chain conditions. Shortages of components are the main factor limiting our production.” [Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components]
  • “The shutdowns in China due to a new COVID-19 wave are causing supply concerns for late second quarter and early third quarter. We have extended lead times to customers and are ordering product from China to cover demand through Q4 and early 1Q 2023.” [Miscellaneous Manufacturing]
  • “Overall, improvements in supply chain are occurring on larger scale items, but we see suppliers that sell us low-volume items struggling in some cases with getting feed stocks and raw materials they need. Freight continues to plague things as well.” [Nonmetallic Mineral Products]
  • “Business is still very robust. Material price increases continue to be passed on (to customers) based on costs of raw materials, logistics and labor to produce products.” [Plastics & Rubber Products]

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