Despite harsh weather conditions, the U.S. manufacturing industry posted positive gains in February. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index had a reading of 53.2 in February, a gain from January's figure of 51.3. The February figure is higher than expected, as a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal predicted the index would reach 52.5.
The jump in February marks an eight-month rebound of low figures. January's 51.3 reading was the lowest since May 2013.
The increased reading is a pleasant surprise for the industry as experts believe the unseasonably cold winter and other economic factors would contribute to a smaller growth. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated in a testimony to Congress that weather was impacting the Fed's expectations for the economy.
"We have seen quite a bit of soft data over the last month or six weeks," Yellen said. She went on to say the Fed needs to "get a firmer handle on exactly how much of that set of soft data can be explained by weather and what portion, if any, is due to a softer outlook.''
Even though the Fed was on the fence about economic growth over the past month, the ISM index showed otherwise.
Several indexes increased over the past month. The new orders index increased to 54.5 from 51.2 in January. Inventory rose from 44 in January to 52.5 in February.
Some indexes decreased during this time frame. Production had a very large drop as it went from 54.8 in January to 48.2 in February. This is also a drop from December 2013's reading of 61.7 and the lowest index reading since May 2009, according to ISM.
Manufacturers who are looking to add experienced workers to their companies can enlist the services of manufacturing recruiters or operations recruiters in their search.