Why I’m Bullish on US Manufacturing

July 12, 2019

And why you should be too!

I could give you a lot of stories about how fulfilling my career has been making things that matter.

I could give you a lot of stories of the wonderful people that I have met in manufacturing- at all levels of the industry.

But today, I’m just going to provide you with some facts.

In order to have avoid confusion, I am going to use the Gross Domestic Product contribution from Manufacturing as the indicator best describing Manufacturing’s importance to our economy. Some could look at employment or productivity or other indicators, but from my perspective, I believe that how much US Manufacturing contributes to our Country’s GDP is the valid indicator.

The contribution to US GDP from Manufacturing has been growing and on quite a tear since 2009. (The vertical axis is in $ billions, ie.: ”reaching an all time high of 2154.90 USD Billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 from a record low of 1798.60 USD Billion in the first quarter of 2009.”

10 year chart of US GDP growth from Trading Economics.

Growing contribution to US GDP.

Chart source: 10 year Chart from Trading Economics United States GDP From Manufacturing

Here is another Trading Economics Chart for United States GDP from Manufacturing since January 2016.

US MFG GDP Growth 2016 to present Trading Economics

Looks like we began to get our stuff together in January of 2017!

What is it like for Precision Machining shops like ours?

I personally track a Business Trends Sales Indicator for the Precision Machining Industry Segment.

PMPA business Trends index shows growth in our manufacturing segment

We expect to finish 2019 up almost 20% over calendar year 2016.

Our forecast for 2019 is based on a very strong correlation indicator (r^2 of .96). We believe that we will finish 2019 up 4% over 2018.

And the last two years-2017 and 2018- were both up 7% over prior years.

In addition, all five of our highest months reported-ever- have been in 2018 and 2019.

Why am I bullish on US Manufacturing? As long as people around the world aspire to a USA Middle Class lifestyle, they will need manufactured goods to attain it. And US manufacturing is the third largest segment of contribution to US GDP.

Trading Economics: United States GDP From Manufacturing

PMPA Business Trends Report


ISM PMI – The Beat Goes On!

July 1, 2019

 

nostalgic reminder that some things remain the same...

Sorry for the earworm, fellow Baby-Boomers…

Despite the sense of inevitable doom from all of the pundits, the June ISM PMI data came in at 51.7 (A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.) The June report shows the New Orders unchanged, with Production and Employment growing.

Timothy R. Fiore, Chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee reported that “Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, but at soft levels; June was the third straight month with slowing PMI® expansion. ” (Link below)

After evaluating all factors, the June ISM PMI report concludes that the Overall Economy is growing, albeit slower, for the 122nd consecutive month.

The Manufacturing Sector was also shown to be growing, also slower, for the 34th consecutive month.

We agree that the pace of growth of manufacturing is slowing.

We also believe that there are other reasons to explain this slowing growth besides an imminent recession:

  1. Trade uncertainty– Nothing makes trade more volatile than Tariffs Policy being executed via Twitter.
  2. Trade tensions– Trade with China is a problem much greater than the tariffs issues which we see on the surface. A reset in Global trading order is playing out here, we think.
  3. Geopolitics– Iran, Russia, Brexit- nervous money remains on the sidelines keeping money tight.
  4. Speaking of money– The Fed and its future policy regarding accommodation is also on people’s minds.
  5. Employment– Full employment is typically seen as a positive, but if employers cannot get employees to replace those that they will promote to operate the new equipment, well, it becomes a vicious cycle of a don’t buy the new equipment; b) don’t promote the existing worker; c) don’t hire replacements because we can’t find them. So Full employment actually caps potential for growth.
  6. Finally, Weather.  Can’t have a complete list with out mentioning the weather! Much of manufacturing- especially fabricated metal manufacturing- goes into agricultural equipment. The unseasonable rains this year have certainly had an affect on purchase of Farm equipment. We saw headlines late last month indicating half of Ohio Farmland had yet to be planted.

Weather!

So “The Beat Goes On.” 34 months of consecutive growth in manufacturing have been logged, 122 months for the overall economy.

We see no imminent triggers for an immediate recession. and as we reported in our latest PMPA Business Trends Report, May 2019 was our fifth highest Monthly Sales Index ever.

We can agree we are at or near a top, but we do not agree that “gloom and doom” are imminent.

 

June ISM PMI

Farm and Dairy

May PMPA Business Trends 

Calculated Risk Blog 

The Beat Goes on...

The beat goes on…

 

 

Sonny and Cher


BLS October Jobs Report: Great News in October- Unless you are looking for workers

November 2, 2018

Our TakeJob gains beat consensus expectations, Unemployment is at its lowest level since I was a junior in High school, Participation rate  matches its best  level this year, and  private non-farm wages have risen 3.1%  this year according to this BLS jobs report.  

Bottom linethe US economy is based on consumer spending. This report shows that consumers are growing their purchasing power a positive indicator for the economy going forward.

Facts keep us bullish on manufacturing.

Key Points

  • “Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 250,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, in manufacturing, in construction, and in transportation and warehousing.”
  •  “In October, employment in manufacturing increased by 32,000. Most of the increase occurred in durable goods manufacturing, with a gain in transportation equipment (+10,000). Manufacturing has added 296,000 jobs over the year, largely in durable goods industries…On average, 213,000 jobs have been added each month  in 2018 YTD.” 
  • “The labor force participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 62.9 percent in October but has shown little change over the year.
  • “In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, and overtime was unchanged at 3.5 hours.“ 
  • “In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents to $27.30. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 83 cents, or 3.1 percent.“
  • “The unemployment rate remains at it’s 48 year low, 3.7%- lowest rate since 1969.  Interestingly, not a single industry was reported to have lost any jobs.” 

September and 3rd Quarter 2018- Unseasonably Strong for Precision Machining

November 1, 2018

PMPA’s Business Trends Index for September 2018 came in at 106% of its value a year ago, despite its 7.7% decline from August’s record tying performance. September 2018’s value of 132 is a record for the month of September, a frequent occurrence this year. The September 2018 value of 132 is also 10.4% above the five year average for the index in the month of September. year to date our index indicates that sales  up 10 points or 8% over  the 2017 year-end average.

Unseasonably strong sales in September for Precision Machining Industry.

Opinions for the next three months compared to today:

  • Net Sales: The sales outlook confirms Pareto’s law with 80% of reporting shops expecting sales to improve or remain level over the next three months.
  • Lead Times: Ninety- one percent of respondents expect lead times to remain the same or increase in the next three months.
  • Employment: Prospects for employment are positive with ninety-eight percent (98%) expecting level or increased opportunities for employment.
  • Profitability: Eighty-four percent of our respondents expect business and margins to remain strong for the next three months.

Current Environment: 2018 continues on pace to a much stronger than average sales year as we determined in our April report. The sentiment indicators that we track recognize a seasonal decline ahead, but remain in positive territory for the precision machining industry.  Our industry continues to outperform 5-year averages by a wide margin!

PMPA members can download a full copy of the September 2018 Business Trends Report here

Key takeaway: Our business has changed- have we adjusted our management thinking to match?


Quality Quote

October 10, 2018

No spec, no quality. Know Spec, know quality.

Quality means compliance with all terms of the specification.

Know the specification!


August Precision Machining Sales Reclaims Record!

September 26, 2018

PMPA Business Trends Report reclaims all-time record high of 143 in August. March 2018 was the first time that our sales index recorded such strong sales.

Precision machining Industry Sales and shipments back up to March 2018’s record levels!

Eighty percent (80%) of  our respondents reported sales increases,  51 percent of shops reporting reported sales increases in the double digits.

Sentiment indicators remain strong.

Very positive look forward next three months.

 

Our markets and businesses have changed- have we as managers kept up?

If this was a control chart, you would say the process has shifted upwards…

How are you managing differently for success rather than survival?


August ISM PMI- Highest Reading Since January 2004

September 5, 2018

The ISM PMI was reported at 61.3, the highest reading since January 2004, when it was 60.8.

Prior to that the ISM PMI has not been at this level since 1984, when it was 61.3 in February,  in 1987 it made it to 61.0 in December.

It has been a long time since the ISM PMI was at today’s levels!

Here is the ISM’s Announcement:

“The August PMI® registered 61.3 percent, an increase of 3.2 percentage points from the July reading of 58.1 percent. The New Orders Index registered 65.1 percent, an increase of 4.9 percentage points from the July reading of 60.2 percent. The Production Index registered 63.3 percent, a 4.8-percentage point increase compared to the July reading of 58.5 percent. The Employment Index registered 58.5 percent, an increase of 2 percentage points from the July reading of 56.5 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 64.5 percent, a 2.4-percentage point increase from the July reading of 62.1 percent. The Inventories Index registered 55.4 percent, an increase of 2.1 percentage points from the July reading of 53.3 percent. The Prices Index registered 72.1 percent in August, a 1.1-percentage point decrease from the July reading of 73.2 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 30th consecutive month.” ISM Timothy R. Fiore Press Release

Positive Takeaways:

  1. Manufacturing continues to expand. the 3.2 point jump from July to August was a substantial increase.
  2. The overall economy continues to expand- 112 consecutive months of economic expansion.
  3. The increases from July to August were especially robust for New Orders (up 4.9%); and Production (up 4.8%).
  4. Other indicators for employment, inventories, supplier deliveries  increased on the order of 2% or more.
  5. The Prices Index fell 1.1 percent in August from July, but still showed increasing costs for raw materials, for the 30th consecutive month.

Thoughts to consider: while past performance is no assurance of future performance, we note that the current level of the PMI has been of prior high water marks,  rather than sustainable levels. While “this time it’s different,” is a possible comment, our look at the graph above suggests that we may be nearing the top. Although the values for the 1964-1966 do provide another possible interpretation.

Bottom line: Manufacturing and the broad economy showed remarkable strength in August 2018. Prospects remain positive for sales and employment in manufacturing. The current strong level of performance convinces me that we must be thoughtfully reconsidering all aspects of our business at this time. This trend might have legs- it might also be nearing a top. PMPA’s Latest Business Trend Report was optimistic on Outlook for the next three months.

ISM August 2018

Graph courtesy Calculated Risk


New REACH Status for Lead- PMPA Members Know How to Respond

August 29, 2018

 

On June 21, 2018, the ECHA added Lead to the Candidate List for Substances of Very High Concern under REACH.

Not banned in every application…

While this regulation arguably covers only manufacturers and importers in the EU, the fact of the matter is that  our shops here in North America are producing components (articles) which are incorporated into products in the EU.

Our customers, who specify the use of leaded materials because of the economics of product provision (Leaded materials machine at much higher efficiency rates, lower costs , and seldom need post fabrication operations) are now asking their suppliers for a statement of compliance for the materials that THEY specify us to make THEIR components from. Leaded Steels, Brasses and Aluminums.

Our shops find themselves placed right in the center of a paradox-  how can they certify that the material that their customer told them to use is compliant with this new REACH development?

PMPA has analyzed this and provided our members with a guidance document that

  • Recites the applicable facts and regulatory obligations
  • Describes where and where not the REACH and other EU regulations apply / might not aply;
  • Analyzes the duties to our customers
  • Describes ways to meet our obligations
  • Provides references for understanding this new development

The world of Precision Machining is characterized by Volatility (this regulation just Arrived), Uncertainty (does this apply to me, I’m an North American, not European manufacturer?) Complexity ( So I need to read the ECHA announcement, The ECHA Substance Support Document, the Annex that covers Lead,  and then two more annexes that tell me what I need to do) before I can figure out what I need to do, and Ambiguity (Actually the annexes do not expressly state what the exact deliverable  required is).

This VUCA world is made manageable by  PMPA regulatory sensemaking  to help our shops  first recognize, then intelligently understand and manage their risk.

  • Who is helping you and your team recognize new regulatory risks?
  • Who is helping you to understand those risks?
  • Who is providing answers so that you can concentrate on making those critical parts that the world needs, instead of spending three or four man-Days trying to figure it out? (Presuming that you know the issue even exists!)

PMPA members know who.

PMPA!

PMPA Members Only Guidance Document


Precision Machining Shops in High Gear in June 2018

July 25, 2018

“With 84 companies responding, the PMPA Business Trends Index for June 2018 held steady at 138, highest June on
record and tied with May 2018. The calendar year average remains 136. The 2018 June index of 138 is 2.2% higher
than June 2017’s 135 value. This is our Index’s highest value recorded for June, and is our second highest value ever
recorded (March 2018’s 143 was the highest ever).”- PMPA Business Trends Report- June 2018

2018 continues to set a blistering pace for the performance and sentiment indicators that we
track. June 2018 is now our second highest sales Index ever- tied with May 2018- while March 2018 was our all-time
high. Our forward- looking indicators remain strongly positive even as they reflect some softening from our current record
levels of performance. Our industry continues to outperform 5-year averages by a wide margin- ~10.4% for June!

See the full report here: https://www.pmpa.org/news/latest-news/2018/07/24/pmpa-business-trends-june-2018

 

Employment prospects are 98% positive In precision machining shops!

P.S- Employment Sentiment: Prospects for employment are positive and strengthening with ninety-eight percent (98%)
expecting level or increased opportunities for employment!

photo credit: Life of Dad blog

 


United States Department of Commerce Section 232 Exclusion Requests Tracking

July 11, 2018

In case you were wondering how well the US Department of Commerce is taking care of the exclusion requests by American Metalworking companies, here’s some data.

 

0ver 98.9% of all requests for exclusions remain unprocessed!

Requests for exclusions for both steel and aluminum have less than a half of a percent chance of being approved- 0.35% for steel and 0.47% for aluminum.

Where else but government is this level of performance tolerated?

We will update this from time to time.