April 1 (UPI) -- Manufacturing activity in the United States did not grow in March and led to a decline of new orders and production, the Institute of Supply Management said Wednesday in its monthly report.
The manufacturing index dropped a full point from 50.1 in February to 49.1 in March. The ISM report said supplier deliveries slowed at a faster rate, customers' inventories decreased and prices fell for the month. Contractions, it says, were seen in backlogs, raw material inventories, exports and imports.
The index was heavily influenced by the coronavirus outbreak, it added. The pandemic has resulted in major restrictions for U.S. businesses and the workforce. An industry report Wednesday said nearly 30,000 private jobs were lost between mid-February and mid-March.
"The coronavirus pandemic and shocks in global energy markets have impacted all manufacturing sectors," Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in a statement.
"Among the six big industry sectors, food, beverage and tobacco products remain strongest, followed by chemical products."
Fiore said new orders fell more than 7 percent and the production index declined 2.6 percent. The order backlog and employment indices were also down for the month.
"Comments from the panel were negative regarding the near-term outlook, with sentiment clearly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and energy market volatility," Fiore said.
"We face a difficult two weeks as we approach that really important day when we're going to see things get better," President Donald Trump said in his daily briefing Tuesday. "And it is going to be like a burst of light."