The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI says that while the manufacturing sector has done relatively well during the start-and-stop recovery, growth is likely to continue at a slower pace. The organization's composite index dropped to 77 percent in September from a record high of 81 percent in June 2010. But the index has come a long way: in September 2009, it only measured 38 percent.
"Although some indexes based on year-over-year comparisons fell slightly, all remain at very high levels," said Donald A. Norman, Ph.D., MAPI Economist and survey coordinator. "The forward looking indexes, based on expectations for annual orders, investment, and R&D spending in the coming calendar year, were all at high levels. Especially encouraging is the continued improvement in the capacity utilization index. The pace of expansion may have slowed, but growth is expected to continue."
The business outlook index considers U.S. shipments, backlogs, inventories, and profit margin indexes. The 12 indexes that comprise the composite showed mixed results.
The U.S. investment index, based on executive expectations of capital investment, measured 80 percent, a sound increase from 47 percent in September 2009. The profit margin index reached a record high of 87 percent in September 2010. But the quarterly orders index and backlog orders index dropped to 89 percent and 81 percent, respectively.