We reported earlier on a few recent economic indicators suggesting the health of US manufacturing isn’t necessarily ER-bound. However, according to the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, the Midwest manufacturing index did turn in a lower performance in March, mostly due to the automotive sector. The index, released by the Fed in Chicago, comes out monthly and measures manufacturing output for the five states that make up the seventh Federal Reserve district: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. The index fell 0.7 percent from 108.4 in February.
The greatest concern is the “spread of the illness”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that auto sales would be down. Anecdotal evidence from machine shops in Ohio suggests that the trucking industry (by production, not usage) is also down this year. But unlike the automotive industry, several machine shops expect an up-tick in orders from the large truck OEMs by the end of the year. Lumpy would be a good description for current economic conditions. Certain industries are feeling the impact more so than others. On a recent business trip, we met with a handful of machine shop owners and all reported strong order books.