The State of Manufacturing in November

November follows October, which was celebrated as Manufacturing Month nationwide, and is a time to pivot, get back to business, and navigate the road ahead, which presents a mixed picture.

The Institute for Supply Chain Management’s Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI), an index that measures U.S. manufacturing activity, fell 0.7 percentage points to 50.2 in October, the lowest level since May 2020, just over the 50 threshold that reflects a shrinking economy. Manufacturing is slowing due to a decline in business spending and demand for consumer goods, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

In contrast, the U.S. economy rebounded in the third quarter, expanding 2.6% at the annual rate, due in part to strong consumer spending on services, government, and net exports. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the annual inflation rate also fell 7.7% in October from 8.2% in September. While supplier price and inflation are possibly abating, it is important to remember that rises and falls in inflation have happened before in waves. Real GDP, furthermore, is forecasted to increase 1.8% in 2022 with only 0.7% growth in 2023, elevating the risk of recession.

On the upside for manufacturing, supply chain bottlenecks continue to improve with supplier delivery times, manufacturing production expanded by 0.4% in September (4.7% year-over-year), employment increased by 32,000 in October (up from 23,000 in September), and output in the third quarter increased by 1.4%, demonstrating manufacturing resilience to the many challenges from soaring costs and workforce labor shortages to economic uncertainties.