SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a faster pace in November with producers trying to keep up with demand amid ongoing supply shortages and delays.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose to a reading of 61.1 in November, just above October's 60.8 and matching September.
Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector. The manufacturing sector has recorded 18 straight months of growth going back to spring of 2020 when the pandemic broke.
Sub-categories of new orders, production and employment all grew at a faster pace in November, though many respondents commented that they are still struggling to hire, despite some modest progress over the past three months. ISM's report said that 86% of the employment comments related to hiring, with 51% of those respondents saying they are struggling to fill positions, an increase from October.
Businesses are also struggling to keep their inventories stocked due to elevated demand. ISM's customer's inventories index registered a reading of 25.1 in November, the 62nd straight month that it's been what is considered too low. While it's not good for stores to have sparse or empty shelves, it will likely spur more production ahead to remedy that situation, the ISM report said.
Prices are still elevated, but retreated somewhat in November to a reading of 82.4 from 85.7 in October.
Thirteen of the 15 manufacturing categories reported growth last month, led by apparel and furniture. The only two that contracted were printing and primary metals.
ISM said the broad sentiment of its panel remained strongly optimistic, but they “remain focused on the importance of improving supply chain issues to respond to ongoing high levels of demand,” said Timothy R. Fiore, head of ISM’s manufacturing survey committee.