Manufacturing activity in the Chicago area accelerated for the third straight month in December, The Chicago branch of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Dec. 30.
ISM's purchasing managers' index rose to a seasonally adjusted 60.0 reading, up from 56.1 in November. Most analysts had expected a decline to 55.1 on the index, where a reading above 50.0 means expansion.
"From the perspective of December, the economy appears to have regained its footing, climbing out of the hole created by the Great Recession of 2007-2009," the ISM said.
The data extended "a generally improving leading economic indicator since March 2009," it said.
Production picked up, after slowing the prior month, reaching its highest level in more than a year.
New orders rose for the third month running, to a high last seen in May 2007.
Order backlogs for the region rose for the first time in 16 months.
Employment increased for the first time in two years.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009