US Manufacturing Activity Decelerates in April, Not Much Progress on Reducing Labor Shortage

Staffing Industry Analysts (05/02/22)

Business activity in the US manufacturing industry grew in April but at its lowest rate since July 2020 as progress slowed on the labor shortage, according to the “Manufacturing ISM Report on Business” released by the Institute for Supply Management.

The Manufacturing PMI level was 55.4% in April, down from March’s reading of 57.1% and the lowest reading since the reading of 53.9% in July 2020.

“The US manufacturing sector remains in a demand-driven, supply chain-constrained environment,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey committee. “In April, progress slowed in solving labor shortage problems at all tiers of the supply chain. Panelists reported higher rates of quits compared to previous months, with fewer panelists reporting improvement in meeting headcount targets.”

The employment portion of the index eased to a reading of 50.9% in April from 56.3% in March.

Fiore noted an overwhelming majority of panelists contributing to the report indicated their companies are hiring as 89% of employment index comments were hiring-focused.

“Among those respondents, 34% expressed difficulty in filling positions, up from 28% in March,” he said. “Turnover rates remain elevated (39% of comments cited backfills and retirements, an increase from 30% in March), and there were fewer indications of hiring improvement. Employment levels, driven primarily by turnover and a smaller labor pool, remain the top issue affecting further output growth.”

Data in the report is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives nationwide.

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