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llustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The manufacturing sector has bounced back from its pandemic knockout. But as the economy reopens, factories can't keep up with orders.

Why it matters: The materials manufacturers need are hard to find and prices for them are soaring.

  • The shortages could delay orders for companies relying on them, while the price surges could ripple out to the consumer.

Stunning stat: An important gauge of manufacturing activity in America matched the highest level in 17 years last month, a closely eyed survey by the Institute for Supply Management showed Monday.

Context: Last April — at the onset of the pandemic — the industry was in the worst shape since the global financial crisis.

  • The biggest winners since then: food and beverage manufacturers, along with makers of computers, chemicals and metals.
  • Losers: petroleum and coal manufacturers — the only sector to contract last month.

Yes, but: Material shortages could prevent factories from making good on the surge in orders.

What they're saying: “Everything is a mess, and we are seeing wide-scale shortages," one appliance and electrical equipment maker said.

Plus: Factories have increasingly reported paying more for materials, with the latest data showing manufacturers paying the most since 2008.

What's going on: Companies are "not able to have as many people at the sawmills or as many people in the foundries making steel" because of COVID-19 work restrictions, leading to manufacturers' shortages, Ben Ayers, an economist at Nationwide, tells Axios.

What to watch: The problems come as the Biden administration prioritizes revitalizing the sector and boosting jobs — promises made by his predecessor.

Go deeper

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December, WTKR reports.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."