Manufacturing leaders continue to cite supply chain disruptions as a key challenge, with rising material costs topping the list of concerns in the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. There is hope that these increases will be transitory, and at least for now, the Federal Reserve appears to be more focused on stimulating economic growth than on inflationary worries.  New orders for manufactured goods declined 0.8% in February, largely on weather and supply chain challenges. Despite the weaker monthly data, factory orders have risen 1.9% over the past 12 months,

There were 538,000 manufacturing job openings in February. Overall, these data offer an encouraging sign that manufacturers are confident enough about the coming months to post new jobs. The U.S. trade deficit rose to $71.08 billion in February, an all-time high, with goods exports falling by more than goods imports for the month. Goods exports remain down 5.15% year-over-year despite progress since last spring, whereas goods imports have recovered much quicker, up 10.31% over the past 12 months.