Area Development
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index rose to 48.6 in March, up from 48.3 the previous month and slightly higher than industry predictions. This does not indicate growth, however, as a number below 50 indicates contraction. "Manufacturers' order backlogs continue to erode as the New Orders Index failed to grow for the fourth consecutive month," says Norbert J. Ore, CPM, chair of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Additionally, manufacturers continue to experience heavy cost pressures, as the prices they pay are still rising even with slower overall demand. Some manufacturers are still benefiting from strong export demand and continue to see growth in export orders." The industry sectors that reported growth in March are apparel, leather, and allied products; printing and related support activities; miscellaneous manufacturing; primary metals; computer and electronic products; machinery; transportation equipment; and food, beverage, and tobacco products.