From The Editor

PMI Returns to Positive Territory

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MCN Editor Dan Markham Great news from the Institute for Supply Management. Sort of. The March PMI came in at 50.3 percent, the first month showing growth for the manufacturing sector after 16 months of contraction, ending what was surely the largest unnoticed recession in U.S. manufacturing history.

For almost a year and a half, purchasing managers in all of the major manufacturing sectors of the U.S., a group which includes many in the metals supply chain (fabricated metals, transportation, appliances, etc.) have reported contraction in the space. There wasn’t any May 2020 or September 2008 level declines, mind you, but a slow, steady pullback, according to the fine folks at the Institute for Supply Management.

Yet, throughout that entire time frame, the metals supply chain generally seemed to keep on humming without much concern. Talk of recession centered around what might happen down the road, rather than what was taking place at the moment. Conditions in most markets were described as flat. Sure, there were some segments that were clearly off previous highs, but there were just as many seemingly enjoying more robust times.

And now, the PMI is back to positive territory for the first time since 2022. It’s obviously a positive development. But, from this corner, the sense of relief is decidedly muted by the absence of anguish the most recent manufacturing recession should have produced.