The US manufacturing sector is recovering rapidly, judging by new data from the Institute for Supply Management.

ISM’s closely watched index of manufacturing activity increased from 54.7 in February to 55.6 last month – the fifth successive month to post a rise and the second to produce a reading above the all-important 50.0 no-change threshold.

“What we’re seeing now,” declared Norbert Ore, chairman of the ISM survey committee, “is a rapid recovery to where we would have been without September 11. It speaks to the resilience of the overall economy.”

Driving last month’s increase was a sharp rise in new orders, the index for which jumped to 65.3, its highest reading since October 1987. As new orders tend to translate into future production or declining inventories, Ore forecast that last month’s rise presaged continued manufacturing recovery in coming months.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff