According to economists at the Institute for Supply Management, (ISM), economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in March for the 27th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 70th consecutive month
According to Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chairman of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, "The March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 51.5%, a decrease of 1.4% from February’s reading of 52.9% percent. The New Orders Index registered 51.8%, a decrease of 0.7%from 52.5% in February. The Production Index registered 53.8%, 0.1% above the February reading of 53.7%. Inventories of raw materials registered 51.5%, a decrease of 1% from the February reading of 52.5%. The Prices Index registered 39%, 4% percentage points above the February reading, indicating lower raw materials prices for the fifth consecutive month.”
The small declines are attributed to continuing challenges from the West Coast port issue, lower oil prices having both positive and negative impacts depending upon the industry, residual effects of the harsh winter, higher costs of healthcare premiums and challenges associated with the stronger dollar on international business.