The Institute for Supply Management’s March report is out, and the findings look good:
U.S. industry flourished in March as hiring reached the highest level since late 1987, but manufacturers were concerned over the high cost of raw materials and a weaker dollar, a report showed on Thursday. The Institute for Supply Management said the factory sector chugged along at its best clip in nearly 20 years in March.
The employment component of ISM’s nationwide manufacturing survey shot up last month, confounding expectations of a pull-back. A separate Labor Department report said new claims for unemployment benefits slipped last week, adding to hopes that Friday’s March employment report will show employers are finally hiring.
The surprisingly large increase in factory employment stoked expectations for a bigger rise in workers on U.S. payrolls, which battered Treasuries and boosted Wall Street stocks and the dollar.
Tomorrow’s jobs report will be important politicially, I think; the economy has been booming for the past year, but relatively sluggish hiring has allowed the Democrats to cloud the issue. Public perceptions of the economy lag far behind reality, so job growth in the fall will be too late. The next month or two are critical, I think.