The growth spurt by local manufacturers cooled a bit during September.
Local manufacturers said their businesses expanded at a slightly slower pace during the month, essentially reversing the uptick in growth they experienced in August, according to a survey of purchasing managers in the Buffalo Niagara region.
The slower September expansion, which nevertheless extended the growth streak among Buffalo Niagara manufacturers to seven months, was fueled by stronger production and new orders, which offset slower increases in hiring and inventories.
“It was another good month,” said Jay K. Walker, the Niagara University economist who compiles the monthly report for the Institute of Supply Management – Buffalo. “No real notable variation in the indices, but when they’re in positive territory, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
The group’s business activity index slipped to 57.4 during September, down from 59.1 in August but roughly on par with its July level. While the index remains below the 11-month high of 64.2 that it hit in June, it still is comfortably above the tipping point of 50 – the dividing line between a growing and contracting manufacturing sector – for the 17th time in the last 19 months.
The strongest gains last month came from rising production at local factories, where the number of firms reporting higher or stable output levels inched higher, while only a little more than a quarter of the companies said they cut production last month, down from a third in August.
The flow of new orders also improved a bit, with nearly three-quarters of the managers surveyed saying their firms had increased or stable order flow last month, up from 55 percent in August.
The pace of hiring slowed last month, but still remained positive, with more than 80 percent of the firms reporting that they hired new workers or kept their staffing levels stable. Still, that was slightly worse than August, when every company surveyed said that it added or maintained its employment.
Inventory expansion also fueled the modest uptick in growth, with a slightly more than third of the firms adding to their stockpiles last month, up from a third in August. Commodity prices continued to rise, but at their slowest pace since June.