We can now clearly say that this is the manufacturing sector's deepest downturn since the dark days of the Great Depression (see the charts below for evidence). While the blood-letting will probably continue for some time, a few regional Fed surveys (here, for example) and NEMA's very own Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) suggest manufacturers are beginning to strike a more optimistic tone on their expectations for future economic conditions. The forward-looking components of these indexes are especially helpful at times like these because they have demonstrated an ability to predict improvements (or further deterioration) in manufacturing output and employment. Nonetheless, six months ahead is a bit down the road and should conditions remain on their present course, the economic hole that we'll have to crawl out will be an even deeper one than it already is.


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