According to the Institute for Supply Management March “Report on Business, the PMI was 59.6%, an increase of 3.1% over February’s 56.5%. Norbert J. ORWE, CPSM, chair of the Manufacturing Business Survey Committee said, “The manufacturing sector of the economy grew for the eighth consecutive month during March. The rate of growth as indicated by the PMI is the fastest since July 2004 …The Inventories Index provided a surprise as it indicated growth for the first time following 46 months of liquidation – perhaps signaling manufacturers’ willingness to increase inventories based on expected levels of activity.” This wasn’t just an upturn in a few industries – 17 of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in the PMI in March.
The PMI is the Purchasing Management Index, based on data compiled from purchasing and supply executives nationwide. A PMI reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is expanding and below 50% indicates that it is declining. At the very worst of the recession, it was 32.5% in December of 2008.
While it’s good news for our economy that manufacturing has grown for eight months in a row, why has the national unemployment rate held at 9.7% for the third month in a row in March, after peaking at 10.1% in October 2009?
It’s the loss of manufacturing jobs that is keeping unemployment so high. Too many manufacturers are sourcing all or most of their manufacturing offshore. An upturn in their business doesn’t mean more manufacturing jobs for Americans if they aren’t producing or buying everything for their products in the United States. Since 2001, we’ve lost 63% of the U. S. textile industry and 74% of the U. S. printed circuit board industry. We lost 47% of communication equipment jobs and 43% of motor vehicle and parts industry jobs.
In addition, manufacturers are doing more with less; existing employees are required to work harder and longer because manufacturers aren’t hiring new people until they have more confidence that the upturn in business will continue. Manufacturers aren’t building up inventory to fill orders – they are ordering materials, components, parts, and assemblies as needed to fill orders they receive from their customers.
The number of manufacturing jobs is a better indicator of what’s really happening in the economy than the stock market. Many of the companies on the Dow and Standard & Poor index of the stock exchange are no longer American-owned companies. They are companies that I call multinational globalist companies, which have no loyalty to the United States and don’t care about providing jobs for Americans. These companies may be doing well based on their worldwide business and could post profits and have their stock prices go up without creating jobs for American workers and benefiting the U. S. economy as a whole.
We need to establish a national manufacturing policy to be able to maintain a strong manufacturing industrial base as the foundation of our economy and create the jobs our country needs.