March U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled almost $496 million, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). This is down slightly from the almost $503 million in orders in March 2011, but up more than 11% from February, the association reported.
The year-to-date total for manufacturing technology orders reach more than $1.35 billion in March, putting 2012 up almost 13% over 2011. "Manufacturing is expanding with no clear signal of a downturn in sight," said Douglas Woods, AMT's president. "Manufacturing added 34,000 jobs in March, capacity utilization is just shy of 80%, and USMTO order growth confounds experts as it climbed 12% over 2011 levels."
A closer look at the various regions around the U.S., shows that only the Midwest's orders fell from February, by more than 8% to $152 million. The region is also down close to 20% compared with March 2011. Nonetheless, year-to-date orders there are up almost 12%, comparable to the national rise.
The Midwest accounts for more than 30% of the nation's orders, but is offset by the Central region, which also accounts for just over 30% of the total. There, March orders of $149 million were up close to 14% over February and almost 18% compared with March 2011.
The South fared the best in March, with its $71 million in orders representing a 34% increase over February and a 16% increase over March 2011. The region's year-to-date total of $167 million also showed a close to 12% gain over 2011.
Obstacles remain, however, for future manufacturing investment in the U.S., Woods said, including a lack of access to credit, global supply issues, encroaching industry regulations and taxes, and overall political uncertainty.