“Indications are that the manufacturing sector is ending 2003 on a very positive note, and all of the indexes support continued strength into 2004,” says Norbert J. Ore, C.P.M., chair of Tempe, Ariz.-based Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Ore made his comments while announcing that according to ISM's research, economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in November for the fifth consecutive month while the overall economy grew for the twenty-fifth consecutive month. ISM surveys the nation's supply executives and reports its findings monthly in its “ISM Manufacturing Report on Business.”

“The manufacturing sector enjoyed its best month since December 1983. The big improvement is in employment, as the index rose above 50 percent, indicating growth, following 37 consecutive months of decline. The momentum is coming from continued strength in new orders and production as the indexes are presently at very lofty levels,” says Ore.

Its backlog-of-orders index indicated that order backlogs increased in November, and the employment index reversed a long-term trend of contraction. ISM's prices index indicated that manufacturers experienced higher prices in their purchases, and the new export orders and import indexes continued to grow.

“Based on this data, it appears that the recovery is gaining momentum. While there are still companies lagging the recovery, they should be encouraged by the current indicators in the sector,” Ore says.

Of the 20 industries in the manufacturing sector, 18 reported growth, including electronic components and equipment, food, chemicals, wood and wood products, textiles, printing, and rubber and plastic products.