According to end-of-year data from the Institute for Supply Management, 2017 proved to be the U.S. manufacturing industry's most productive year since 2004. Much of the reported industry growth occurred in December, when factory activity increased from 58.2 to 59.7, according to the Purchasing Managers Index, or PMI. Using this index, any result above 50 indicates an increase in activity.
The recorded 1.5 percent PMI growth in December brings the annual PMI average to 57.6 percent. This represents the second-highest increase in the past seven years, surpassed only by post-hurricane manufacturing growth, driven by supply deliveries. This more recent growth, by contrast, stems from an increase in new orders.
Statistics indicate an increase of 5.4 percent in new orders in December. This brings the overall monthly new order percentage to 69.4, the highest measurement of growth industry-wide since the beginning of 2004. Experts attribute the increase to a growth in the global economy as well as increases in household spending and domestic investments in the United States.