This morning’s ISM Manufacturing report came in weaker than expected at 49.5. This is the first official contraction reading since last August. Clearly, the economy remains in this sort of stagnant phase. The underlying data was even weaker than the headline figure with employment and new orders declining substantially. The good news is that we’ve seen these readings in the recent past and they were consistent with a stagnant economy and not a collapsing economy. The bad news is that the economy remains way too weak to bring down unemployment by any substantial amount.
The report was issued today by Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “The PMI™ registered 49.5 percent, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from October’s reading of 51.7 percent, indicating contraction in manufacturing for the fourth time in the last six months. This month’s PMI™ reading reflects the lowest level since July 2009 when the PMI™ registered 49.2 percent. The New Orders Index registered 50.3 percent, a decrease of 3.9 percentage points from October, indicating growth in new orders for the third consecutive month. The Production Index registered 53.7 percent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points, indicating growth in production for the second consecutive month. The Employment Index registered 48.4 percent, a decrease of 3.7 percentage points, which is the index’s lowest reading since September 2009 when the Employment Index registered 47.8 percent. The Prices Index registered 52.5 percent, reflecting a decrease of 2.5 percentage points. Comments from the panel this month generally indicate that the second half of the year continues to show a slowdown in demand; respondents also express concern over how and when the fiscal cliff issue will be resolved.”