New orders for manufactured goods rose $8.8 billion in November on strong transportation business, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. New orders increased 1.8% to $497.9 billion, the highest level since the government began reporting this data on a NAICS basis in 1992.

Transportation equipment, up three of the last four months,  accounted for $6.2 billion of the total $8.1 billion increase in new orders for manufactured durable goods. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods were up a more modest $0.8 billion, or 0.3%, to $256.3 billion in November.

“This data was highly volatile for much of 2013, with large shifts in aircraft orders pushing the data up and down,” noted Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.  “Illustrating this, the year-to-date growth (from December 2012) was a more modest 2.6%, and November’s level of new factory orders ($497.9 billion) was not much different than what was experienced in June ($497.1 billion).”

But even with this volatility, Moutray pointed out, new factory orders have been moving higher. “Over the past three years, new factory orders have grown 17.3%, up from $424.6 billion in November 2010.”

Shipments of manufactured durable goods also posted an increase in November, up $4.1 billion or 1.8% to $238.3 billion. Machinery led the increase, up $1.4 billion or 4.2% to $35.5 billion.

After a decrease in October, shipments of nondurable manufactured goods also picked up by 0.3% to $256.3 billion. Petroleum and coal products led the increase, up $1.0 billion or 1.4% to $71.6 billion.

Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods, up nine of the last 10 months, increased $10.4 billion to $1.05 trillion.

Led by transportation equipment, inventories of manufactured durable goods increased 0.2% to $384.3 billion. Inventories of manufactured nondurable goods fell 0.2% to $249.1 billion, with petroleum and coal products accounting for much of the decrease.