Last updateThu, 06 May 2021 8pm

Factory Orders Rebounded in March

New orders for manufactured goods in March, up ten of the last eleven months, increased $5.8 billion or 1.1% to $512.9 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. This followed a 0.5% February decrease.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in March, up ten of the last eleven months, increased $2.0 billion or 0.8% to $256.9 billion, up from the previously published 0.5% increase. This followed a 0.9% February decrease. Fabricated metal products, up six of the last seven months, led the increase, $1.4 billion or 4.0% to $35.4 billion. 

U.S. GDP Increased 6.4% in the First Quarter

In the U.S., the gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.4% in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Department of Commerce. In the fourth quarter of 2020, real GDP increased 4.3%.

The increase in first quarter GDP reflected the continued economic recovery, reopening of establishments, and continued government response related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first quarter, government assistance payments, such as direct economic impact payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and Paycheck Protection Program loans, were distributed to households and businesses through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. 

Growth in Texas Manufacturing Activity Remains Robust

Texas factory activity expanded at solid clip in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 14 points to 34.0, a reading still well above average and indicative of robust output growth. Other measures of manufacturing activity also pointed to strong growth this month, with demand, labor, price and wage indexes reaching all-time highs. Perceptions of broader business conditions improved markedly in April, and uncertainty subsided. 

Consumer Confidence Highest in 14 Months

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose sharply again in April, following a substantial gain in March. The index now stands at 121.7, its highest mark since February 2020, up from 109.0 in March. Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved significantly in April, while optimism about the short-term outlook improved moderately. 

Study: 89% Expect Their Jobs to Be Partly Remote After Pandemic

An expectation on the part of workers that they will be allowed to work remotely more often will be one of the legacies of the pandemic, according to a new study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network. In all, 89% of people said their preference in the future will be for a job that allows them to work from home at least occasionally.

Most people prefer a hybrid model, with two or three days a week from home and the rest in the office, according to the study. And it isn’t just those in digital, knowledge, and office jobs—many of whom are already working remotely—who want more workplace flexibility on a permanent basis. Even study participants who have jobs that require the handling of physical goods, or contact with clients, expressed a desire for setups that would allow them to work remotely at least occasionally. 

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