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Key Points – April 2021 Report

The Chicago Business Barometer™, produced with MNI, rose to 72.1 in April, the highest level since December 1983. The index gained 5.7 points, boosted by an influx of new business.

Among the main five indicators, Order Backlogs posted the largest increase, while Supplier Deliveries saw the biggest decline.

Demand improved markedly in April with New Orders rising by 9.9 points to a near-7-year high. Production ticked up 0.9 points to the highest level since January 2018. Anecdotal evidence suggested an anticipated increase in business activity, partly because firms are overbuying due to raw material shortages.

Order Backlogs soared, up 16.2 points in April, hitting the highest level since December 1973. Firms are experiencing difficulties in getting certain components and raw materials.

Inventories fell 8.7 points in April, dipping below the 50- mark for the first time since December 2020.

Employment edged higher in April by 1.7 points, marking the highest level since August 2018 and the second successive reading in expansion territory.

Supplier Deliveries eased 3.5 points in April, following a sharp increase in March. Nevertheless, the index remains elevated and firms continued to experience slow delivery times due to logistical constraints.

Prices paid at the factory gate skyrocketed a further 11.1 points in April, surging to a 41-year high. Raw material shortages and transportation problems continue to weigh on companies cost burden.


This month's special question asked, "Do you plan to expand your workforce over the next three months?" The majority, at 54.8%, plans to expand their work force, either with permanent (16.7%) or temporary (14.3%) workers, or both (23.8%). Against that, 45.2% have no plans to expand their staff levels.

Click below for the full press release:

MNI_Chicago_Press_Release_-2021-04 (1).pdf

For full database history and full report on the Chicago Business Barometer™, please