January 15th, 2021

US factories grew in December at fastest pace since mid-2018


By Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press on January 5, 2021.

FILE - In this June 24, 2019, file photo machines work on a Ford vehicle assembly line at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant in Chicago. American factories expanded at a faster pace last month, continuing a rebound from the coronavirus recession. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, that its manufacturing index climbed to 56 in August from 54.2 in July. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky, File)

WASHINGTON – American factories grew in December at the fastest pace in more than two years as manufacturing continued to weather the pandemic better than the battered services sector.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that its gauge of manufacturing activity rose to 60.7% last month, the highest reading since it stood at 60.8 in August 2018. The activity gauge was up 3.2 percentage points from a November level of 57.5.

Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The U.S. economy collapsed from April through June but since that time manufacturing has posted solid gains while the services sector, which includes restaurants, bars and the travel industry, has been harder hit.

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