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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Business Barometer Slipped to 61.8 in November
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  November 30, 2021

• The Chicago Business Barometer slipped in November driven by a slowdown in new orders.

• Supply constraints remain an issue and firms are stockpiling to get ahead of supply-chain disruptions.

• Prices remain high, just shy of the October multi-decade high.

The ISM-Chicago Purchasing Managers Business Barometer dropped to 61.8 in November after rising to 68.4 in October. It was the lowest reading since February, driven by a slowdown in new orders. The Action Economics Forecast had expected a rise to 67.7 from a 64.3 projection in October. 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 eased to 62.8 in November from 63.7 in October.

Production rose to 61.5 in November from 58.5 in October. Forty-three percent (NSA) of respondents reported a higher level of output and 17% reported a decline. New orders fell to 58.2 in November from 67.5 in October, while order backlogs dropped 13.8 points, to 60.8 from 74.6 in October, as firms reported a reduction in the size of incoming orders.

Supplier delivery speeds edged down to 83.2 from 84.7 in October. A steady 69% (NSA) of respondents reported slower delivery speeds while none reported quicker speeds. Inventories rose to 59.6 in November from 51.1 in October, with some firms reporting stockpiling to get ahead of further supply-chain disruptions.

The employment index declined to 51.6 in November from 56.6 in October, still indicating that firms have a hard time finding qualified workers for available jobs. A reduced 22% (NSA) reported more hiring while a slightly increased 16% reported less.

Prices paid eased to 93.8 in November from the multi-decade high of 94.3 in October. A steady 83% (NSA) of respondents raised prices while none lowered them.

This month's special question asked, "Are you seeing any easing up in the supply-chain blockages?" The majority (64.9%) said no.

The MNI Chicago Report is produced by MNI in partnership with ISM-Chicago. The survey is collected online each month from manufacturing and nonmanufacturing 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) Nov Oct Sep Nov '20 2020 2019 2018
General Business Barometer 61.8 68.4 64.7 57.8 49.0 51.4 62.4
ISM-Adjusted General Business Barometer 62.8 63.7 61.3 55.8 49.6 51.5 60.8
   Production 61.5 58.5 60.7 60.5 47.9 51.3 64.6
   New Orders 58.2 67.5 64.4 59.9 47.1 52.0 63.8
   Order Backlogs 60.8 74.6 61.1 50.8 42.6 46.9 58.0
   Inventories 59.6 51.1 48.0 46.1 44.7 48.7 55.4
   Employment 51.6 56.6 52.4 43.9 41.8 49.6 55.2
   Supplier Deliveries 83.2 84.7 81.2 68.5 66.4 55.6 64.8
   Prices Paid 93.8 94.3 90.7 72.2 59.5 58.5 74.0
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