Furniture leads December manufacturing for output; second in new orders

TEMPE, Ariz. – Furniture was among the leading manufacturing industries in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s latest index and survey.

Despite severe labor shortages and supply chain holdups, the industry fell behind only leather products for new orders placed. It also led the list of industries in terms of production, coming in as the top manufacturing industry for output.

“Business continues to be good, with strong incoming orders from customers,” said one furniture respondent. “(We) continue to battle labor, material and transportation pressures.”

The industry also reported higher inventories, slower supplier deliveries, a boost in imports, and it was one of the few to report no change in employment numbers.

Furniture was among the primary industries to report paying increased prices for raw materials, coming in at No. 3 of the 18 industries. The manufacturing industry at-large saw the price of raw materials rise for the 19th consecutive month.

Interestinly, furniture was the only sector to report lower backlogs for the month. Nearly all other industries saw an increase.

Looking at manufacturing at-large, overall growth climbed once again in December for the 19th consecutive month.

The December Manufacturing PMI registered 58.7%, 2.4 percentage points lower than the November reading of 61.1%. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

“The U.S. manufacturing sector remains in a demand-driven, supply chain-constrained environment, with indications of improvements in labor resources and supplier delivery performance,” said ISM chairman Timothy R. Fiore. “Shortages of critical lowest-tier materials, high commodity prices and difficulties in transporting products continue to plague reliable consumption.

“Coronavirus pandemic-related global issues — worker absenteeism, short-term shutdowns due to parts shortages, employee turnover and overseas supply chain problems — continue to impact manufacturing. However, panel sentiment remains strongly optimistic, with six positive growth comments for every cautious comment, down slightly from November.”

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