The US manufacturing sector continued to see growth in February, but output slowed as industries were unable to keep pace with demand, according to an industry survey released Thursday.
New orders actually increased at a slower pace than in January, but the brisk pace led to an increase in backlogs, the Institute for Supply Management said.
ISM’s monthly Purchasing Manufacturer’s Index rose 1.7 points to 60.8 percent, the highest level since May 2004, indicating growth for the 18th consecutive month. Any reading above 50 percent signals growth.
However, the production index fell 2.5 point to 62 percent, still showing growth but at a slower pace.
‘Production expansion continues, in spite of labor, capacity constraints and supplier delivery difficulties,’ Timothy Fiore, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in a statement.
‘Production could not keep pace with new order input and customer inventory needs, resulting in higher backlogs.’
The backlogs index rose 3.6 points, while the price index also ticked up 1.5 points, both indicating accelerating growth.
But with production ramping up, companies continue to increase their headcount, Fiore said, and the employment index jumped 5.5 points to 59.7 percent, more than recovering from the dip in January.
But companies included in the survey continued to report difficulty finding workers to fill open positions.
‘Employment is one of our biggest challenges. No labor available,’ according to a firm in the food, beverage and tobacco sector.