The slump by Buffalo Niagara manufacturers moved into its sixth month during July, but there were signs that the worst might be over.
Business at local manufacturers has been declining since February, despite signs of improvement at factories nationwide following a difficult 2015, according to a new survey of purchasing managers in the Buffalo Niagara region.
But the July survey included a glimmer of hope, as the rate of decline slowed significantly and was close to stabilizing.
“With this month’s move, I am hoping we will converge with the national trend into expansionary territory in August,” said Jay K. Walker, the Niagara University economist who compiles the monthly business activity index for the Institute of Supply Management – Buffalo.
The latest survey of local purchasing managers showed that business weakened at a much slower pace during July, with the group’s business activity index finishing the month at 49.5, up from 45.1 in June and at its highest point since the downturn began six months ago. Anytime the index drops below 50, it’s a sign that the manufacturing economy is weakening.
Behind the July weakness was a slump in the flow of new orders production, which declined for the seventh time in the last eight months. That offset an increase in production that pushed output at the region’s factories to its highest level since December.
Hiring at local factories declined slightly for the second straight month, while commodity prices rose for the fourth consecutive month.