American manufacturing expanded in March but at a slower pace than in previous months, suggesting a slowdown in the overall economy, according to a widely followed survey of manufacturers released today.
The National Association of Purchasing Management said its index of manufacturing growth fell to 51.4 percent in March from 54.5 percent a month earlier. It was the lowest rate of growth since September 1993, when the index measured 50.3 percent.
The index has been advancing for the last nineteen months. But in February and March it has increased at a significantly slower rate than in the preceding months.
An index reading above 50 percent indicates an expansion of activity at the nation’s factories, while a reading below 50 percent indicates a decline.
NAPM’s March production index was 53.6 percent, its lowest level in 13 months.