It was still contracting in April, but at a slower pace than in March, according to the ISM® Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index®.

The numbers: The index rose from 46.3 in March to 47.1 in April. As numbers below 50 indicate contraction, that’s still not great news, but it is an improvement. Meanwhile:

  • New orders (up from 44.3 to 45.7) contracted for the eighth consecutive month, while production (up from 47.8 to 48.9) and exports (up from 47.6 to 49.8) continued to decline, but more slowly than they had been.
  • A bright spot: hiring rebounded for the month, up from 46.9 to 50.2.

Supply chain improvements: Also on the plus side, “This month’s reading indicates the fastest supplier delivery performance since March 2009,” according to the ISM®.

In related news . . . Private manufacturing construction rose 4.6% from $140.58 billion in February to a record $146.99 billion in March, according to new Census Bureau data. Even better, over the past 12 months, activity has skyrocketed by 62.5%.

As NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray put it, “These data speak to the very sizable investments being made in the manufacturing sector, with firms strongly expanding their capacity to meet their long-term objectives. This should bode well for future growth in manufacturing in the U.S. moving forward.”