US manufacturing grows in August for fifth straight month

SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S manufacturing grew at a slightly slower pace last month, continuing a rebound from spring’s coronavirus recession.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said today that its manufacturing index fell to 55.4 in September from 56 in August. Anything above 50 signals growth, and U.S. manufacturing has expanded now for five consecutive months.

The ISM reported that new orders and production grew in September, though at a slower pace. Employment contracted for the 14th straight month, though with a reading of 49.6, came very close to expansion for the first time since July 2019.

The virus devastated the U.S. economy in the spring. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic output — plummeted at a 31.4% in the April-June quarter. It was by far the worst three months in records dating back to 1947.

Economists have forecast that the U.S. economy will shrink about 4% in 2020. It would be the first annual decline in GDP since a drop of 2.5% in 2009 during the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.