The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data that suggests that sales are growing and that after-tax profits, and after-tax profit margins have risen to record levels in the fourth quarter of 2010. This confirms survey evidence from the Institute of Supply Management and from many other surveys done in regions across the country (See links below) that suggest that the manufacturing sector is recovering. Chart One suggests that sales are growing but remain below their levels prior to the recession. However, profits rose to $135.3 in Q4 2010 which is its highest level since Q3 2007 (see chart two). Another promising indicator shown in Chart Three is that after-tax profit margins for manufacturing companies also reached its highest level since 1999; coming in at 9.1 percent (see chart three below). These data and the charts suggest that manufacturing is expanding, profitable, and propelling the economic recovery. Do you think this picture is indeed accurately portraying the real picture of manufacturing? Are there other indicators that should be examined?
Empire State Manufacturing Survey
Manufacturing Survey – Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey
Manufacturing Surveys – The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Manufacturing Survey – The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
March 2011 Business Outlook Survey – Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia