By Agence France-Presse American manufacturers boosted activity for the 10th straight month in March, and factory jobs growth accelerated, a survey showed April 1. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) purchasing managers' index, based on a survey of supply executives, rose 1.1 percentage points from February to 62.5% in March. It was the 10th month in a row above 50%, indicating expansion in manufacturing activity. The survey showed factory jobs growth picked up, with the employment index rising 0.7 percentage points to 57%. It was the fifth month of expanding manufacturing employment in the survey following a 37-month contraction. Official figures show manufacturers have shed 2.8 million jobs since January 2001. Among other key findings in the ISM survey:
- Factory output accelerated, with the production index rising 1.6 percentage points to 65.5%.
- New orders grew, albeit at a slower pace, with the index dipping 0.7 percentage points to 65.7%. The backlog of orders expanded at a faster pace, with the index up 1.5 percentage points to 63.5%.
- Prices paid by manufacturers climbed faster, with the index surging to 86% from 81.5%.