November GBI Accelerates Contraction

The November GBI showed quickening contraction in manufacturing, led by a drop in backlogs.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI) moved lower in November to 48.0, indicating a quickening contraction in business activity among U.S. manufacturers. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity. The further away a reading is from 50 the greater the magnitude of activity change. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data for the month observed that the Index – calculated as an average of its components – was supported by expanding activity in new orders, supplier deliveries, employment and production.  Conversely, backlogs and exports both pulled the Index lower, with backlog activity contracting at its fastest rate in over three years.

Based on three-month moving averages, the fastest expanding manufacturing market was aerospace, followed by medical and electronics.  In the year-to-date period, aerospace and medical manufacturing data have to a quickening expansion trend.  Electronics manufacturing by comparison contracted during the first half of 2019 before reversing course and expanding in recent months.

Through November, construction machinery has been the hardest hit industry in the year-to-date period followed by plastics processors and automotive.  Business activity in all three sectors has contracted more quickly during the second-half of the year after a relatively calm first-half.

November marks only the second time in 2019 that Gardner’s largest category of manufacturers (those with more than 250 employees) has reported an overall contraction in business activity.  Prior to the July 2019 reading which fell just below 50, the last time that large firms reported contracting conditions was during the third quarter of 2016.  Between the first quarter of 2018 and present, large firms have regularly reported better business activity conditions than their peers in all other size categories.

For the month, Composites was the best performing technology; it was followed by Metalworking, Plastics Technology, Production Machining, Finishing and Moldmaking. To learn more about the detailed trends occurring in the manufacturing sector visit our website at:, readers can also visit our website blog and social media accounts to read about the latest news in the manufacturing sector.


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World Machine Tool Survey

An independent annual survey that collects statistics from machine tool consuming and producing countries and compares them in real U.S. dollars.

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Gardner Business Index

A diffusion index measuring month-to-month changes in activity at durable goods and discrete parts manufacturing facilities.