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Still Contracting
-- February 5, 2002

Orders for manufactured goods may have risen slightly in December, but the manufacturing and service sectors are still stuck in the quagmire of recession.

The Institute for Supply Management, formerly the National Association for Purchasing Managers, surveys the manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries each month and publishes an index for each sector. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector; a reading below 50 indicates contraction. As of the latest survey in January, both sectors are still contracting.

In fact, January marked the manufacturing sector's 18th month in a row of declining economic activity. The non-manufacturing (or service) sector has contracted for three of the past four months. And with retail sales dropping, it's likely that this sector will continue to contract in the months ahead.

Bottom line: The recession is not abating, no matter what Wall Street, the White House, or anyone else tells you.

related article: Factory Orders Up, But Services Stall