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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Business Barometer Nears Record High in May
by Tom Moeller  May 28, 2021

• Barometer jumps to highest level since November 1973.

• New orders & order backlogs continue to surge.

• Delivery speeds slow and pricing power remains strong.

The ISM-Chicago Purchasing Managers Business Barometer strengthened to 75.2 in May from 72.1 in April. The Action Economics Forecast expected a weakening to 69.0. An index above 50 suggests growing business activity in the Chicago area.

Haver Analytics constructs an ISM-Adjusted Chicago Business Barometer with methodology similar to the ISM Composite Index. This measure held steady at 64.9 for the third straight month and remained well above the low of 40.7 reached in June 2020.

The new orders index jumped roughly eight points to 80.0 as a steady 65% (NSA) of respondents reported a higher level of orders. The order backlog series strengthened to a record 80.7 from 73.2. Supplier delivery speeds slowed significantly as indicated by a rise in the index to 82.3. Working lower was the production index to 70.6 from 72.9. Employment weakened to 49.8, the first month indicating lower employment in three months. Inventories fell to 41.8 from 46.8, down from March's nearly three-year high of 55.6.

Prices paid eased to 88.4 from 91.5 as a lessened 77.0% (NSA) of respondents reported paying higher prices while none paid less.

The MNI Chicago Report is produced by MNI in partnership with ISM-Chicago. The survey is collected online each month from manufacturing and non-manufacturing firms in the Chicago area. Summary data are contained in Haver's USECON database with detail including the ISM-style index in the SURVEYS database.

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (%, SA) May Apr Mar May '20 2020 2019 2018
General Business Barometer 75.2 72.1 66.3 32.9 49.0 51.4 62.4
ISM-Adjusted General Business Barometer 64.9 64.9 64.9 41.7 49.6 51.5 60.8
   Production 70.6 72.9 72.0 24.3 47.9 51.3 64.6
   New Orders 80.0 72.2 62.3 22.1 47.1 52.0 63.8
   Order Backlogs 80.7 73.2 57.0 27.6 42.6 46.9 58.0
   Inventories 41.8 46.8 55.6 52.6 44.7 48.7 55.4
   Employment 49.8 56.4 54.6 37.1 41.8 49.6 55.2
   Supplier Deliveries 82.3 76.4 79.9 72.6 66.4 55.6 64.8
   Prices Paid 88.4 91.5 80.4 54.5 59.5 58.5 74.0
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