The Purchasing Managers Index for U.S. manufacturing hit its lowest point in 19 months in July, which gives it a ways to go before breaking out the confetti.
In August, the PMI rose from 51.4 to 51.9. The breakeven point between growth and contraction is 50. A flash estimate indicates that 85 percent of the pertinent data are available.
That established, the PMI improved but it is still the third lowest reading in 35 months, Markit said.
For August, growth of output and new orders was "modest," the report said.
The output or production index rose from 51.7 to 52.4, while the new orders index climbed from 51 to 52.6.
The employment index slipped from 52.7 to 52.5. Output and input prices both remained negative.
Markit Senior Economist Rob Dobson said the figures indicate U.S. manufacturing at a "recovery-low."
Despite faster growth, "it nonetheless suggested that manufacturing continued to take a hit from weak economic conditions in key export markets. Higher domestic new orders, in part due to increased marketing and lower selling prices, was partly offset by a further reduction in new export work," he said.