US Manufacturing Expanded in August at Fastest Pace Since '11

Cummins factory
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

U.S. factories ramped up in August to the fastest pace of expansion in six years, driven by employment gains, figures from the Institute for Supply Management showed Sept. 1.

Highlights of ISM Manufacturing (August)

  • Factory index climbed to 58.8 (est. 56.5) from 56.3 in July; readings above 50 indicate expansion
  • Employment gauge jumped to 59.9, highest since June 2011, from 55.2
  • Measure of new orders fell to 60.3 from 60.4; order backlog gauge rose to 57.5, matching a three-year high

Key Takeaways

  • Steady increases in consumer spending and business investment are delivering sustained gains in manufacturing, which bodes well for third-quarter economic growth. While orders cooled in August and production showed a modest uptick, the rise in backlogs will keep factories humming and underpin demand for workers.
  • The ISM hiring gauge also is in sync with the government’s measure of factory payrolls, released as part of the Labor Department’s August jobs report earlier Sept. 1. That data showed manufacturing employment increased the most in five years.

Other Details

  • ISM production measure rose to 61 in August from 60.6 in July
  • Measure of export orders fell to 55.5, the third decline in four months, following 57.5
  • Gauges of supplier deliveries climbed to 57.1 from 55.4
  • Index of prices paid remained unchanged at 62

— With assistance by Kristy Scheuble