Slow hiring still a drag on MN manufacturers

Slow hiring dampened the growth outlook for Minnesota manufacturers in April, according to a survey of supply managers released Monday, slipping slightly behind the broader Midwest region.
The decline continued to unwind momentum that started building around the turn of the year, when the state’s manufacturers began to offset a strong U.S. dollar that for months stymied trade activity.The dollar is weakening, but a dearth of new jobs is taking a toll.
Minnesota scored 49.8 in Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index for April, down from 50.7 a month earlier. Values greater than 50 point to economic expansion in the coming months, and lower scores indicate a shrinking economy.
Manufacturers in the state have added just 100 jobs over the previous 12 months, according to the report. That growth – at just 0.03 percent – isn’t enough to drive promising prospects, Creighton economist Ernie Goss said in a statement.
Durable goods producers cut employment by 1,100 during that span, the report shows, while nondurable goods makers added 1,200 openings.
Meanwhile, the forecast for manufacturers across the entire Midwest continued to hover around growth-neutral, clocking in with a score of 50.1 in April. That overall outlook matches the anemic, but still stabilizing, conditions that underpin the sector.
“A somewhat weaker U.S. dollar, making goods more competitively priced abroad, contributed to stabilizing business conditions across the region,” said Goss, who oversees the survey. “At the same time, continuing weakness in the region’s agriculture and energy sectors remains an obstacle to improving overall growth.”
Aside from Minnesota, the report examines conditions in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The findings are gathered into a bundle of indexes, with scores ranging from zero to 100.
The metrics in Minnesota’s index showed mostly declines compared with a year earlier:

New orders landed at 50.8, a drop from 55.6 a year earlier.
Production or sales fell to 50.2, down from 55.7 in April 2015.
Delivery lead time hit 53.3, up from 51.7 a year earlier.
Inventories rose to 49.8, from 47.5 this time last year.
Employment dropped to 45.0, from 47.9 a year before.

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