Manufacturing in the Inland Empire continued to grow last month, but the pace of expansion in that sector is definitely slowing down.
The purchasing managers index for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in August was 50.9, according to data released Tuesday by the Institute of Applied Research and Policy Analysis at Cal State San Bernardino, which compiles the monthly report.
That’s the fifth consecutive month that the index has topped 50, the dividing line for growth. Anything below 50 means manufacturing is shrinking; 50 or above means it’s expanding.
Because three consecutive months either positive or negative is considered a trend, the Inland region’s manufacturing sector is still growing.
However, August’s manufacturing number fell from 54.8, a drop steep enough for the institute to conclude that Inland manufacturing is expanding “at a snail’s pace,” and that fallout from the recession is still being felt.
The August index did contain some good news. Production and new orders both posted modest gains, indicating that consumers are starting to buy again, albeit slowly. Employment dropped from 60 to 45.5, a steep decline but one caused mostly by students giving up their summer jobs and returning to school.
The region’s purchasing managers weren’t optimistic about the immediate future.
Only 22 percent of the purchasing managers surveyed said they expect the economy to improve during the next three months – down from 33 percent in July – while 22 percent said they expect it to get weaker and 56 percent said they expect the economy to stay the same during that time, the report stated.