Gardner Business Index: Finishing for August 2017 — 52.4

The Finishing Index’s growth is moderating. At 52.4, the finishing industry is still showing modest growth compared with the contraction of one year earlier.

The Gardner Business Index: Finishing moved lower in August for a third consecutive month to 52.4, bringing the year-to-date index average down to 54.5. The index’s trend towards 50 indicates slowing growth in the overall finishing industry, but the modest growth it has experienced in recent months is comparably better than one year ago, when the index was below 50, indicating then that the overall industry was contracting. 

The August 2017 index was supported by strength in employment, production, new orders and supplier deliveries, while pulled down by backlogs and exports. The Finishing Index is a calculated value based on the monthly results of Gardner Intelligence’s survey data for six measures in the finishing industry: backlog, exports, employment, new orders, production and supplier deliveries.

For August, backlog and export readings indicated contraction, with exports contracting at their fastest rate in all of 2017. Data for new orders was the bright spot for the month. The net effect of the movements in backlogs, exports and new orders may in part explain why the production reading fell during the month. Production fell below its year-to-date average and several points lower than its July reading. Having averaged 61.1 during the first quarter of the year, the year-to-date average production reading ended at 58.9 for the month.

Throughout most of 2017, Gardner Intelligence has observed very strong employment readings across most of the manufacturing space, including in our finishing data. Since November 2016, employment in the finishing industry has been expanding. In fact, the May 2017 reading recorded a high not seen since before 2013. At 56.7, the eight-month average employment index reading in year-to-date 2017 indicates faster growth in employment than in any other eight-month period in the last five years.  

The Gardner Business Index: Finishing is compiled by the team at Gardner Intelligence, a division of Gardner Business Media, which also produces this and other publications covering the finishing, metalworking, plastics and composites, and automotive industries. This index utilizes data from surveys sent monthly to several hundred finishing shops in North America and analyzed by the Gardner Intelligence staff. For information about the index and to read more business intelligence, please visit short.PFonline.com/research.