American manufacturing is showing signs of slowing after two years of strong growth. The Wall Street Journal reports that higher interest rates and a slowdown in exports are threatening production. New orders for manufactured goods contracted for the sixth straight month through February, and manufacturing output is down 1.7% from its post-pandemic peak in May 2022.
Some sectors of manufacturing are experiencing a sharp pullback, while other factories have yet to feel a drop-off in demand.
Production of appliances, furniture and carpeting was down almost 15% in January from the previous year, according to Federal Reserve data, as sales of previously owned homes fell. Yet car production hasn’t fully recovered to 2019 levels as some manufacturers continue to struggle with supply-chain problems that are making it difficult to get all the parts they need.
Other businesses are still working through stockpiles of excess inventories, which is slowing new orders.