Industry Closes 2017 on a Strong Note

The Gardner Business Index: Metalworking set a calendar-year record for growth in December.


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Brought to you by Modern Machine Shop, the Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking registered 56.2 in December. It expanded faster in December than it did in November, and it grew by more than 12 percent over December 2016. The Metalworking Index’s average of 55.8 for all of 2017 slightly exceeded the average expansion rate seen in 2011.

Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data for the month of December indicates that new orders, production, employment and supplier deliveries lifted the Metalworking Index higher, while backlogs and exports, which expanded for the month, pulled the index lower. In fact, the exports reading closed at its highest level for the entire calendar year. The last time that exports registered such a rate of expansion was May 2014.

The index’s December reading among only job shops increased slightly over that of November. For the calendar year, the average reading among job shops of 55.4 was significantly better than any comparable readings since at least 2013. Supplier deliveries was again the greatest driver of the index for job shops in the month, followed by new orders and production. Past examination of Gardner data suggests that when new orders growth exceeds production, manufacturers can expect continued industry growth.