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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Business Barometer Weakens Drastically in April
by Tom Moeller  April 30, 2020

• Chicago PMI fell to the lowest level since March 2009.

• ISM-Adjusted measure similarly weakened due to the coronavirus.

• Lower orders and production led this month's decline.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Business Barometer fell to 35.4 in April from 47.8 in March, reflecting the depressing effects of the coronavirus on business around the world. A reading below 50 for this diffusion index suggests contracting activity in the Chicago area. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a reading of 37.7.

Haver Analytics constructs an ISM-Adjusted Chicago Business Barometer with similar methodology to the ISM Composite Index. This measure fell to 42.1 in April, the lowest reading since July 2009. The Chicago ISM-Adjusted index has a 78% correlation with the national ISM Manufacturing Index, which is scheduled for release tomorrow.

Of the five main indicators, production and new orders posted the largest declines. A lessened 15% (NSA) of respondents reported higher orders and a greatly increased 64% reported a decline. These were offset by a surge in the supplier delivery measure. It indicated slower delivery speeds and stress in the supply chain. The inventories measure also surged and reversed the prior month's decline.

The employment index plunged to 33.8, the lowest level since June 2009. Just two percent of survey respondents reported a rise in hiring while an increased 33% reported a decline.

The index of prices paid fell to 48.4 indicating that, on balance, lower prices were realized by most survey respondents for the first time in four years.

The MNI Chicago Report is produced by MNI in partnership with ISM-Chicago. The survey covers a sample of over 200 purchasing professionals in the Chicago area with a monthly response rate of about 50%. Summary data are contained in Haver's USECON database, with detail including the ISM-style index in the SURVEYS database. The Action Economics Forecast Survey is available in AS1REPNA.

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (%, SA) Apr Mar Feb Apr '19 2019 2018 2017
General Business Barometer 35.4 47.8 49.0 53.6 51.3 62.4 60.8
ISM-Adjusted General Business Barometer 42.1 46.9 50.8 52.9 51.4 60.8 59.0
   Production 25.3 44.4 51.0 51.6 51.2 64.5 64.2
   New Orders 24.2 45.2 49.1 55.1 52.0 63.8 63.4
   Order Backlogs 37.3 40.3 38.2 49.8 46.9 58.0 55.2
   Inventories 48.2 34.6 48.1 50.4 48.7 55.4 54.9
   Employment 33.8 44.9 44.5 51.2 49.6 55.3 52.9
   Supplier Deliveries 78.9 65.3 61.3 56.4 55.6 64.8 59.4
   Prices Paid 48.4 56.7 52.9 51.8 58.5 73.9 64.0
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