By John S. McClenahen There's new evidence suggesting a slide in U.S. manufacturing is underway and that it began in February. Following a 1.7% increase in January of this year, new orders for manufactured goods in February fell 1.5% to $321.2 billion, says the U.S. Commerce Department. On April 1, the Institute for Supply Management reported that the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy had contracted in March. New orders for durable goods, products that typically last for three years or more, decreased 1.6% in February to $169.9 billion, more than the 1.2% decline earlier estimated. Computers and electronic products led the decline, falling 5% to $25.9 billion in February. Machinery decreased 2.5% to $21.8 billion. New orders for manufactured non-durable goods decreased 1.4% in February to $151.2 billion. Commerce's factory order data do not include semiconductors.