The Inland Empire manufacturing sector is keeping its head above water, but just barely.
The region’s purchasing managers index in February was 50.8, up from 50.4 in January, according to data released this week by the Institute of Applied Research and Policy Analysis at Cal State San Bernardino.
If the index is 50 or above for at least three consecutive months, that means the production of goods in Riverside and San Bernardino counties is expanding. So, if the March index is 50 or above, Inland manufacturing will have officially returned to growth mode.
When broke down by category, the February index was definitely a mixed bag.
Production, one of the index’s two main components was 50 last month, up from 48 in January. That’s a modest improvement, but the number is moving in the right direction.
However, the index’s other main component, new orders, was 48, the same as January and the fifth consecutive month that number was below 50.
Manufacturing employment was up slightly, to 58, a good sign, but the region’s price index jumped from 60 to 70. That latter is another sign that inflation, while it may be going away, is not going away fast enough.
The region’s purchasing managers remained pessimistic. Only nine percent said they expect the Inland economy to get stronger during the next three months, while 39 percent expect it to get weaker and 52 percent said they believe it will stay the same, during that time, according to the index.