PhotoIt's been a long time coming, but the manufacturing sector of the economy is growing again.

According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was up 2.3% from February -- to 51.8%. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while under 50 suggests contraction.

The March increase was the first since August 2015. The overall economy, meanwhile, expanded for the 82nd consecutive month.

Within the sector, The New Orders Index posted a gain of 6.8%, production was up 2.5%, and the Prices Index soared 13%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the first time since October 2014.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 12 reported growth in March:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Machinery;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Chemical Products;
  10. Paper Products;
  11. Primary Metals; and
  12. Computer & Electronic Products.

The industries reporting contraction in March were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  4. Transportation Equipment; and
  5. Petroleum & Coal Products.

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