While sentiment indicators have been split, the jobs data and reports from businesses are painting a clear picture of the U.S. manufacturing industry's stress.
What they're saying: Timothy Fiore, chairman of the ISM survey committee, which tracks the sector through its purchasing managers index, said his report may be underestimating the damage. (His company's latest report showed manufacturing contracting for the fourth straight month.)
- "I think a lot the [layoffs] are flying under the radar — no one wants to impact consumer sentiment, no one wants to announce cuts around Christmas," Fiore told Barron's last month.
- "People are dropping shifts, canceling overtime, sending temporary workers home."
The big picture: The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book, which tracks businesses around the country, has a recurring theme.
- "Several retailers reported that tariffs were raising costs and hurting profit margins," the Fed's Richmond office reported.
- "Uncertainty generally remained elevated, driven by trade tensions, the political climate, and weaker global growth," the Dallas Fed noted.
- "Business contacts in retail and manufacturing reported facing increased price pressures due to tariffs," the St. Louis Fed found.