U.S. and Global Factory Output Picks Up, but Jobs Picture Is Mixed



Paul Hannon and David Harrison | The Wall Street Journal

U.S. factory output continued to grow in August, according to a pair of surveys released Tuesday, but the picture for employment was mixed, a possible sign of lingering uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic among American manufacturers.

Sluggish employment, if sustained, could pose a threat to the recovery just as the economy is starting to pick up following several months of pandemic-related lockdowns. Other manufacturing powerhouses such as China and Germany also saw continued contraction in factory employment.

A survey of purchasing managers in manufacturing compiled by the Institute for Supply Management found that U.S. factory output grew in August at the fastest pace since November 2018, driven by a surge of new demand and faster export orders. An index of output posted a reading of 56 in August, up from 54.2 in July, ISM said.

But firms continued to cut employment, reflecting a wariness about future prospects and health concerns that have prompted employers to try to put more space between each worker on production lines.

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