Although U.S. manufacturing grew for the 39th consecutive month in August, the rate of growth was slightly slower than it was during July, according to data released September 1 by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Its manufacturing business activity index edged down to 54.5% last month, two-tenths of a percentage point less than July's 54.7%.
An index figure above 50% indicates the manufacturing sector of the economy is expanding; a figure below 50% signals it is contracting.
Both new orders and manufacturing production grew at slower rates in August. The new orders index slipped 1.9 percentage points to 54.2%. The production index fell a single percentage point 56.6%.
However, manufacturers covered by ISM's monthly survey added workers at a faster rate in August than in July. The employment index rose 3.3 percentage points to 54.0%.
"The major concerns in manufacturing at this point are the continued upward pricing pressure that has existed for the past 13 months -- and some industries are experiencing a degree of inventory buildup," says Norbert J. Ore, chairman of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee.