A report measuring manufacturing activity in the Milwaukee area
showed a drop from November to December, but the measure
remained in positive territory and the researcher behind it
feels things are still looking good moving into the new year.
“We certainly have some headwinds — politics in Washington,
interest rate concerns, Eastern civilization versus Western, and
port congestion on the West Coast, to name just a few. But there
is nothing new to any of these, and ‘commerce’ seems to find a
way of getting done,” said Marquette University Center for
Supply Chain Management Director Doug Fisher.
The Marquette ISM Report on Manufacturing Milwaukee- area PMI
fell to 57.61 in December, down from the 68.93 measured in
November, according to data released Friday. A reading above 50
indicates growth or expansion. The index has been above 50 for
14 of the past 16 months.
Despite a drop in the monthly report, Fisher emphasized that one
data point does not make a trend. He said in his experience
December tends to be a slower month with the holidays, plus much
of the production and transportation takes place between
September and November. Given those factors, Fisher said the
December reading was “OK.”
“It seems to be supported by the underlying
elements, as well as the stock market,” he said.
Those elements included growth — although at
a slower pace than in November — in new orders, production,
employment, inventories, customer inventories, exports and
The outlook moving forward also remained
positive, although there was a slight decrease in expectations.
In November, 47.1 percent of respondents expected more positive
conditions in the next six months. That number fell to 38.5
percent in December. The number expecting conditions to stay the
same increased in December, from 41.2 percent to 52.8 percent.
A good sign for the area’s economy was that
just 7.7 percent expected worse conditions in the next six
months, down from 11.8 percent in November.
“If both elements were below 50, my antenna
would be alerted to conditions in January. But, similar to Wall
Street’s behavior in December, it may be that we see some
adjustments, but that the underlying fundamentals remain
acceptable to positive business conditions in early 2015,”
The report also found growing employment in
both blue and white collar areas, although, like other measures,
it was slower than in November.