The headline index (the Purchasing Managers' Index) rose from 51.5 to 51.7, which puts good-producing firms slightly ahead of break-even, which is set at 50.
Despite the slow growth overall, the institute said only eight of 18 manufacturing groups showed growth in October.
The strongest growth was seen in petroleum and coal products, followed by furniture production, clothing, and paper products.
In the month, the component index for new orders rose from 52.3 to 54.2. The employment index showed growth slowing with the index remaining above 50, but dropping from 54.7 to 52.1.
The prices index dropped from 58 to 55, indicating slower price inflation. The export index fell from 48.5 to 48.
The index for imports showed faster contraction dropping from 49.5 to 47.5.
International research firm Markit Economics also released their October PMI for the United States Thursday, pegging manufacturing at 51, down from 51.1 in September.
For Markit, 51 is the lowest reading for their monthly index in 37 months.
Markit senior economist Trevor Balchin said exports were "a key source of weakness in the goods-producing sector with firms again reporting competitive pressure from Asian markets."