Factory activity up for 26 straight month
It's not helping with GDP growth largely because the manufacturing sector is much smaller than it used to be. But factories are an important indicator of future economic activity and this would seem to be good news.
The Institute for Supply Management said on Monday its index of national factory activity rose to 51.6 last month from 50.6 in August.
September marked the 26th straight month of expansion in a sector that has shouldered the broader economic recovery.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to edge down to 50.5. A reading above 50 indicates expansion manufacturing.
A measure of factory employment rose to 53.8 last month from 51.8 in August, while production climbed to 51.2 from 48.6.
Part of the long term rise in factory activity is a result of a weaker dollar, which makes American exports more attractive overseas. And there is no guarantee that what the factories are making will not simply end up as unsold inventory.
But for the moment, the industrial sector appears to be one of the only bright spots in a gloomy economy.