Data: Institute for Supply Management; Chart: Axios Visuals

Manufacturing in the Midwest, a telltale sign for the overall health of the industry, is recovering but not as fast as hoped and employment continues to lag, new data show.

What's happening: The August reading of the Chicago Business Barometer, or Chicago PMI, fell seven-tenths on the month to 51.2, but was the second consecutive reading above 50 after having been below that number for about a year.

  • Fifty is the barrier that separates expansion and contraction.

By the numbers: Production improved further in August, rising 1.4 points to the highest level since June 2019. Companies noted that previously pushed out orders led to an increase in production, with demand up as well, and new orders edging up to a one-year high.

  • Employment rose 0.9 points but remains in contraction for a 14th straight month, and firms again noted staff reductions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: "Anecdotal evidence suggests that the industrial and agricultural sector were hit the hardest and recovered only slowly, while the medical sector is faring very well," the report from the Institute for Supply Management noted.

Watch this space: A majority of respondents (55.6%) said they do not expect to return to full operating capacity until 2021 or later, while 26.7% are back at normal capacity already.

  • Only 8.9% of respondents forecast utilizing their full capacity in Q3 2020 and Q4 2020, respectively, the report found.

Go deeper

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Sep 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why U.S. oil production won't soar again soon

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new survey of oil and gas executives offers data points that explain why U.S. oil production won't approach its record pre-pandemic level anytime soon — if ever.

Driving the news: The Dallas Fed's quarterly survey asked 108 companies the U.S. oil price that would really juice new drilling. As you can see from the chart above, it's well above $39.90 where it's at this morning.

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

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What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: