Back on the decline: Furniture manufacturing shrinks in September

TEMPE, Ariz. – Furniture manufacturing appears to be back on the decline, shrinking two months in a row now following three months of gains.

The Institute for Supply Management measured the overall manufacturing sector at 49% in September, representing the 11th straight month of contraction. September’s number is a slight improvement from August’s 47.6%, but still represents a decline.

“The U.S. manufacturing sector continued its contraction trend but at a slower rate, recording its best performance since November 2022,” said Timothy R. Fiore, ISM chairman. “Companies are still managing outputs appropriately as order softness continues, but the month-over-month improvement in September is a clear positive.

“Demand eased marginally, with new orders contracting, though at a slower rate. Panelists’ companies improved production compared to August and continued to manage head counts, primarily through attrition and hiring freezes. Manufacturing supplier lead times continue to decrease, but at a slow pace,” he continued.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries recognized by the ISM, just five reported growth. Furniture and wood products were among those to report contraction.

Furniture had been one of the only manufacturing industries to show growth from May through July, with the industry at-large sagging around it. In August, it realigned with the rest of the sector, showing a decline.

That decline has continued in September and more severely than in August. The industry reported the second-largest decline in new orders for the month, as well as the second-biggest dip in production output. Furniture was also one of eight industries to report a decline in employment.

It reported no change in supplier delivery speeds. It was one of 11 to report a contraction in inventories. It also was one of 10 to report that its customers’ inventories are too low. Only one industry reported paying more for raw materials (petroleum and coal products). Furniture reported paying less.

Finally, furniture was one of 11 to report lower backlogs.

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