The numbers: Soaring prices and widespread shortages of parts, materials and labor threaten to undercut fast-growing American manufacturers and throw up a roadblock to a U.S. economy still recovering from the coronavirus.
The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell to 60.7% in April from a 38-year high of 65% in the prior month.
The increase fell well short of Wall Street expectations. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast the ISM index to edge up to 65%.
While readings over 60% are exceptional, top manufacturing executives say they are struggling to overcome key shortages that are causing the prices of most goods to rise, in some cases sharply.
“Steel prices are crazy high. The normal checks on the domestic steel mills are not functioning — imported steel is distorted by the Section 232 tariffs,” said a senior executive of a manufacturer of fabricated…