US Economy: Manufacturing Down, Housing Up nathan dodds July 6, 2023

US Economy: Manufacturing Down, Housing Up

The U.S. economy seems to be sending mixed signals recently, with certain sectors experiencing contrasting trends. Specifically, while the manufacturing sector has faced a significant slump, the housing market shows unexpected resilience.

In June, U.S. manufacturing dropped to levels last observed during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports that the manufacturing PMI fell to 46.0 from 46.9 in May, the eighth consecutive month under the 50 threshold indicating contraction. This ongoing contraction marks the longest stretch since the Great Recession. It’s important to note that despite the contraction, there has been a deflation of price pressures at the factory gate, providing a bit of optimism amidst the downturn.

Such contraction has led to more layoffs within the sector as shrinking activity continues. This trend adds to the risk of an economic downturn, given the Federal Reserve’s increase of interest rates by 500 basis points since March 2022.

While these figures paint a grim picture for U.S. manufacturing, a look at the housing market tells a different story. According to the Commerce Department, spending on residential construction rebounded 2.2% in May following a 0.9% drop in the previous month. This surge was primarily driven by a 1.7% acceleration in investment in single-family housing projects, indicating that the housing market remains robust amidst an otherwise uncertain economic climate.

The resilience in the housing market could be attributed to the dearth of homes for sale, contributing to an increase in construction spending. This rise in construction spending further aids in boosting the overall economy, even as manufacturing faces difficulties.

This juxtaposition between manufacturing and housing underscores the complex nature of our economy and the multifaceted influences that shape it. While manufacturing faces the brunt of increased interest rates and other fiscal challenges, the housing market thrives in a climate of low inventory and high demand.

As we move forward, a critical question remains: How long will this contrasting trend continue, and what will be the ultimate impact on the U.S. economy? The answers lie in future policy decisions, global economic developments, and a multitude of other factors that remain to be seen.

In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to stay informed and be ready to adapt. Despite the challenges, the resilience and versatility of various sectors underscore the potential for recovery and growth.

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