Index: US manufacturing output, employment end year on good note

The Mayan Apocalypse came and went without a single frog falling from the sky. Taxmageddon only passed over the United States for a fleeting moment, but the brief, overhyped nature of both still whipped some believers into a doom-and-gloom frenzy. For all the negative talk in December about a possible apocalypse and increased tax rates, one would likely expect businesses were shaking in their boots.

However, the truth is far from that assumption, as a recent index showed U.S. manufacturing ended December on an upswing after losing ground in November. Gains in employment were one of the driving factors to a big end to 2012, making manufacturing recruiters an ideal resource for businesses with big hiring intentions.

From contracting to expanding, employment leads the way
The Institute for Supply Management's index that measures U.S. manufacturing conditions increased to 50.7 in December from 49.5 in November. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below suggests contraction. November's index reading was also the lowest since July 2009, making the gains in December even more important.

One of the biggest contributors to the December increase was an uptick in employment. Manufacturing hiring in November had registered 48.4, but grew by 4.3 to reach 52.7 for December. New orders remained steady at 50.3 and supplier deliveries saw a growth of 4.4 from November to reach 54.7 in December.

"I am delighted to see the PMI above 50, closing out the year in positive territory," Bradley Holcomb, ISM chair, told Supply Chain Management Review. "And all of the 'anchor' indices – New Orders, Production, Employment, Supplier Deliveries – were all above 50. The only one down was Inventories, which is really not a bad thing. You generally see inventories down at the end of the year as manufacturers try to reduce costs. It means that they will go back up and also set the stage for a good beginning to 2013."

The index factors in survey responses from manufacturing business professionals, who expressed a greater level of optimism moving forward. One respondent that manufactures fabricated metal products cited dropping unemployment, rising consumer confidence and new car sales as signs that manufacturing is seemingly "turning the corner."

With a great end to 2012 in the books for the industry, businesses will look to 2013 as the banner year for the recovering U.S. manufacturing industry. A big driver of that resurgence will be employment, and companies can consult with manufacturing recruiters to develop a hiring strategy that will land them the new best talent in the new year.