U.S. Factory Output, ISM Index Continue Growth in March

motorola plant in Fort Worth, TexasEarlier in February when the economy was still growing at a slower pace than expected, economists wondered whether or not the weather was to blame for the bad numbers being reported across a number of industries.

Initial reports of numbers in March suggested that the weather was indeed to blame, and that warmer weather was starting to pick things up across the board. And as it turns out, numbers from March all but confirm the fact that weather was to blame. Things are right back on track, and that bodes well for predictions about the next few months.

As The Omaha World-Herald notes, “U.S. factory output rose further last month, extending strong growth from February after harsh weather had caused production to tumble in January. Manufacturers produced more furniture, clothing, chemicals and aerospace products.”

Just yesterday, the Federal Reserve reported that factory production rose .5 percent in March. After more confirmed thoughts that the weather was behind February’s slowdown, February’s factory production numbers were revised to 1.4 percent growth, altogether totaling a 2.8 percent growth for manufacturing output over the last 12 months.

The World-Herald goes on to note that “Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent in March. In February, industrial production had expanded 1.2 percent.” Some other numbers, like the pace of hiring, weren’t as solid as economists and manufacturers had initially hoped, but overall, things remain positive in the manufacturing sector and beyond.

To add to the positive numbers, the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 53.7 from 53.2 in February (numbers above 50 indicate expansion). And at a time where Chinese manufacturing continues to report weaker than expected numbers in manufacturing and throughout the entire economy, signs are good that American manufacturing is in a strong position in the global economy.

While putting too much weight on any one performance indicator (whether in manufacturing or elsewhere) can be dangerous, these numbers do bode well for manufacturing today. Continued growth in the manufacturing sector means more jobs, more production, and ultimately, a stronger economy, so we think that we speak for everyone when we say that we hope that numbers like these keep up as we head into the summer.

Photo credit: AP Photo/LM Otero, File via Omaha World-Herald