By Jill Jusko Economic activity in the manufacturing sector continued to decline in October, marking the 15th consecutive month of contraction, reports the Tempe, Ariz.-based National Assn of Purchasing Management in its latest NAPM Report on Business. Additionally, the overall economy also failed to grow after four consecutive months of expansion. "The manufacturing sector received a very significant setback driven by the events of Sept. 11th," says Norbert J. Ore, chair of NAPM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "The trend lines were moving in a positive direction prior to this report." NAPM's index of business activity dropped to 39.8% in October, down from 47% in September. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing sector generally is expanding; below 50% indicates that it generally is contracting. NAPM's Production Index declined a significant 10.4 percentage points from the 51.3% reported in September. The New Orders Index declined 12 percentage points to 38.3%, and the Backlog of Orders Index fell from 43% in September to 36% in October. None of the industries in the manufacturing sector reported growth in October. "The overall picture is one of continued decline in manufacturing activity during the month of October," says Ore. "The sector appeared to be well on its way to recovery, but will have to begin anew to build its way into a growth scenario."