The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI®) eased by 0.4 points to 51.2 in September, indicating a weaker rate of expansion across manufacturing and effectively stalling a solid period of recovery since late 2020 (readings above 50 points indicate expansion in activity, with higher results indicating a faster rate of expansion).

Contractions in the machinery & equipment and TCF, paper & printing sectors, and a flat performance in the food & beverages sector failed to offset a return to growth in the building and metal products sectors while the chemicals sector continued to expand although at a more modest pace in September. Contractions were concentrated in the south-east corner of the country where outbreaks and lockdowns have been more severe. 

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Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said: "The recovery in the manufacturing sector over the past year all-but-stalled in September as the impacts of lockdowns and border closures constrained activity in the two largest states. While sales and employment were both lower in September, there are bright spots on the horizon with new orders continuing to expand (although modestly) and production and finished stocks both rising at a faster pace than in August. Manufacturers are hoping that the prospect of restrictions being wound back will see a strong lift in performance over coming months," Mr Willox said.

Australian PMI®: Key Findings for September 2021

  • Of the six manufacturing sectors in the Australian PMI®, metal products (up 8.7 points to 54.2), chemicals (down 2.2 points to 54.2) and building materials (up 8.9 points to 51.3) expanded in September, partly due to eased restrictions of construction activity in NSW. Food & beverages stalled (down 6.0 points to 50.5), while machinery & equipment (down 2.0 points to 48.4) and TCF, paper & printing (down 6.4 points to 46.9) slid into contraction.
  • Three of the seven activity indices in the Australian PMI® fell in September (see table below), with the largest falls in the employment (down 4.3 points to 47.1) and new orders indexes. However, new orders do remain positive (down 5.1 points to 52.0), which augurs well for future growth after lockdowns.
  • The input prices index eased further in September from its record high in July but remained relatively strong (down 3.2 points to 78.1) as manufacturers continue to report high freight costs. The selling prices index edged higher (up 3.0 points to 64.7), suggesting that more manufacturers are passing on some of their costs increases to customers.
  • The average wages index stalled in September (down 9.5 points to 52.9) in the wake of a recent spike in July, when most of the annual wage rises in manufacturing typically occur.

View all Economic Indicators

Seasonally adjusted Index this month Change from last month Long-run average
Australian PMI® 51.2 -0.4 50.8
Production 53.1 2.9 51.6
Employment 47.1 -4.3 49.2
New Orders 52.0 -5.1 51.5
Supplier Deliveries 49.2 7.9 51.0
Finished Stocks 56.0 1.0 49.8
Exports 51.9 6.8 50.1
Sales 48.5 -1.4 49.5
Input prices 78.1 -3.2 67.8
Selling prices 64.7 3.0 48.8
Average wages 52.9 -9.5 58.8
Capacity utilisation (%) 77.0 -2.0 74.3
Seasonally adjusted Index this month Change from last month Long-run average
Food & Beverages 50.5 -6.0 53.9
Machinery & Equipment 48.4 -2.0 50.3
Metals products 54.2 8.7 47.5
Petroleum, coal, chemicals & rubber products 54.2 -2.2 51.7
Building, wood, furniture & other 51.3 8.9 50.0
Textiles, clothing, footwear, paper & printing 46.9 -6.4 47.0

Results above 50 points indicate expansion. * All indexes for sectors in the Australian PMI® are reported in trend terms (Henderson 13-month filter).

Background: The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI®) is a national composite index calculated from a weighted mix of the diffusion indices for production, new orders, deliveries, inventories and employment. An Australian PMI® reading above 50 points indicates that manufacturing activity is expanding; below 50, that it is declining. The distance from 50 indicates the strength of expansion or decline. Australian PMI® results are based on responses from a national sample of manufacturers that includes all states and all sub-sectors. The Australian PMI® uses the ANZSIC industry classifications for manufacturing sub-sectors and sub-sector weights derived from ABS industry output data. Seasonally adjusted and trend data are calculated according to ABS methodology. The Australian PMI® commenced in 1992. More information about the history and methodology of the Australian PMI® is available online.

Full list of 2021 Australian PMI® release dates.

Media Enquiries: Tony Melville: 0419 190 347