February 11, 2013

Georgia manufacturing shows surprising strength in January

Charles Oliver
charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com

— Georgia manufacturing surged during January in the latest piece of good news for the state’s economy.

The Georgia Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose 9.8 points to 55 in January, according to Kennesaw State University’s Econometric Center. Anything over 50 is considered evidence of growth.

That’s good news for northwest Georgia, which is very dependent on manufacturing, said Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson.

“I haven’t seen the report yet, but it correlates with what we are hearing from local industry. They expect 2013 to be better than 2012 and there will be some hiring going on,” Anderson said.

The index stood at its highest level since June 2012. The increase was driven primarily by new orders, which surged 21.6 points to 59.6, and production, which jumped 19.8 points to 55.8. Employment also rose 1.9 points to 51.9, a sign that manufacturing firms are hiring.

“The renewed strength in new orders for January is much needed, however, it remains to be seen if this is a sustainable trend or a one month aberration,” said Professor Donald Sabbarese, director of the Econometric Center, in a press release. “The true test will be can we sustain these levels throughout the first quarter.”

Sabbarese said the size of the increase was larger than expected and may have been driven by Congress reaching a compromise on the so-called fiscal cliff in January.

Anderson noted that this is the second piece of good news the state has received recently, referring to the University of Georgia’s annual economic forecast. Robert Sumichrast, dean of the Terry College of Business, told an audience in Dalton that Georgia’s economy should grow faster than the national economy in 2013.

University forecasters predict the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) will rise 2.1 percent this year, compared to a 1.8 percent increase for national GDP.