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June 1, 2020 11:15 AM, EDT

Survey: US Factories Sink in May for Third Straight Month

A Ford employee, left, has his temperature checked as he enters a Ford plant in Michigan on May 13.A Ford employee, left, has his temperature checked as he enters a Ford plant in Michigan on May 13. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

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American factories contracted for the third straight month in May as they continued to sustain economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said June 1 that its manufacturing index came in at 43.1 last month after registering 41.5 in April. Anything below 50 signals that U.S. manufacturers are in retreat. New orders, production, hiring and new export orders all fell in May but at a slower pace than they did in April.

The results were about what economists expected.

Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries contracted last month, led by printing, primary metals and transportation equipment makers. Six reported growth, led by mineral companies and furniture makers.

The pandemic and the lockdowns, and travel restrictions meant to combat it, have brought economic activity to a near-standstill. U.S. gross domestic product fell at a 5% annual rate from January-March and is expected to drop at a record-busting 40% rate from April-June.

The Commerce Department said last week that orders for big-ticket manufactured goods dropped 17.2% in April after falling 16.6% in March.

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