Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Purchasing Index Shows Expansion

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Purchasing Index Shows Expansion

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) _ Manufacturing companies hired more workers in April than they laid off, marking the first net growth in employment in the sector since 1989, said a widely followed survey released Monday.

The hirings, coupled with rising demand for products, contributed to an expansion in manufacturing activity in April, the eighth consecutive month of growth for manufacturers, said the National Association of Purchasing Management monthly survey.

The survey results, which offer some of the freshest insight into economic trends, were stronger than expected and suggested that the overall economy is growing more robust.

"All indicators were headed in the same direction and pointed toward positive economic growth," said Robert J. Bretz, chairman of the purchasing managers group's survey committee.

Its index of manufacturing activity rose to 57.7 percent in April from 56.7 percent in March. Readings above 50 percent indicate the manufacturing economy is expanding, while readings below 50 percent indicate it is shrinking.

In April, 17 of the 20 industries in the manufacturing sector reported improvements in April, the most to report an upswing in business since 1990.

Economists said the uptick in hirings, the first in five years, is not a fluke. The association's employment index rose to 50.8 percent from 48 percent in March. Readings below 48 percent historically have mirrored a decline in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on manufacturing employment.

While some manufacturing companies, such as defense firms, will shed workers, many will add employees to the payroll throughout the remainder of the year, resulting in a net increase in employment, economists predicted. The survey results suggest that the Labor Department's monthly employment figures, to be released on Friday, will also show growth in hirings.

"The manufacturing sector had been lagging in recovery compared to other industries because of downsizing in the defense industry," said Kathleen Stephansen, senior economist at Donaldson, Lufkin Jenrette Securities Corp. …

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