Manufacturing in the Inland Empire is growing again.
The purchasing manager’s index for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in November was 55.3, up from 50.7 in September, according to the Institute of Applied Research and Policy Analysis at California State University, San Bernardino.
That marked the third consecutive month that the index was 50 or above, the benchmark for a growing manufacturing sector.
Since it takes three consecutive months in either direction to establish a trend, manufacturing in the Inland Empire is officially expanding, said Barbara Sirotnik, institute director.
All of the categories that make up the index either improved or were stable between November and October, according to the institute’s monthly report on local manufacturing, which was released Monday.
Perhaps the most encouraging data was the region’s production index, which jumped to 67.2 to 58.9, and the employment index, which returned to 50 after four consecutive months of being below that number.
Economists watch manufacturing closely because manufacturing jobs generally pay more and require more skills, said Kelly Reenders, administrator with San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency.
“Three months in a row is a good sign, and I think we’re cautiously optimistic about where the recovery is headed,” said Reenders, whose agency co-sponsors the index along with the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. “But an expanding manufacturing sector is definitely a sign of an expanding economy.”
Despite those positive numbers, Inland purchasing managers were not that optimistic about the future of the local economy: 23 percent of those surveyed said they expect the Inland economy to get stronger during the next three months, while the same percentage said they expect it to get weaker.
The remaining 54 percent said they expect the local economy to stay the same. That nearly 80 percent of the purchasing managers surveyed said they don’t expect the local economy to improve during the upcoming quarter “is not overwhelmingly great news,” Sirotnik said.
Reenders, however, was more optimistic.
“When you break down the numbers you see a positive trend,” Reenders said. “All of the numbers indicate the recovery will continue.”