The Inland Empire’s manufacturing sector recorded its fourth consecutive month of growth in December, although it did so in a less-than-impressive fashion.
The two-county region’s purchasing managers index for the last month of 2020 was 50.6, down from 55.5 in November, according to data released by the Institute of Applied Research and Policy Analysis at Cal State San Bernardino.
Fifty or above means manufacturing is growing, but that’s never the entire story: the rate of growth is important, and that clearly slowed between November and December.
Some of that slowdown is seasonal – virtually all production associated with Christmas is finished by December – and some of it is because of a reduction in new orders. But three elements that make up the index were below 50 percent in December: production, new orders, and employment, indicating a downward trend could be starting.
Perhaps because of the pandemic, purchasing managers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties were less confident in the local economy last month than they were in November.
Only 14 percent said they expect the local economy to improve in the coming quarter, down from 16 percent in November.
Thirty-two percent said they expect the Inland economy to get weaker during the next three months, while 54 percent said they expect it to remain the same. In November those numbers were 56 percent and 28 percent.