MNI: Chicago Business Barometer™ Edges up to 43.8 in March
Chicago Business Barometer inched up by 0.2 points to 43.8 in March; the seventh consecutive month below 50.
The Chicago Business BarometerTM, produced with MNI, inched up by 0.2 points to 43.8 in March. Despite increasing for the first time since December 2022, the headline index signaled a seventh consecutive month of contractionary business activity in March.
New Orders and Supplier Deliveries declined in March, the latter recording the steepest fall since February 2022. All other sub-indexes increased in March. Barring Inventories and Prices Paid, all sub-indexes were in contractive territory.
Source: MNI / ISM
EMPLOYMENT REVERSES FEBRUARY DIP
Employment increased to 42.7, 5.4 points higher on the month, moving to similar levels seen in both December and January. Note that the February reading was the lowest since 2009, barring the pandemic. 21.4% of firms saw lower employment levels in March, compared to 34.4% in February. In particular, smaller companies continued to look to fill roles.
Prices Paid edged up by 0.3 points to 65.6 after the substantial February deceleration. Just below half of respondents continued to see prices increase in March. Price reductions from commodity suppliers were supported by reduced container transit costs.
SUPPLIER DELIVERIES FLAG SUBSTANTIAL EASING
Supplier Deliveries fell -9.3 points, moving below 50 for the first time since June 2016, with some respondents finding substantial improvements in deliveries as supply chain pressures ease further.
Production improved 2.6 points to 41.0 in March, after a marked 10.2-point fall in February. Firms continued to flag softening demand, also noting that semiconductor shortages continue to drag on auto and countless other applications.
New Orders softened -1.0 points; a tenth consecutive month of declining orders. Responses were mixed, with some firms seeing a small pick-up whilst others noted a slowdown due to clients’ inflated orders over earlier months.
The survey ran from March 1 to 13.