Manufacturing activity in the United States contracted in August for the third straight month, as the global economic downturn eroded demand for machinery, equipment and other products.
The closely-watched Institute for Supply Management survey showed manufacturing activity fell to 49.6 last month from 49.8 in July, the Associated Press reported.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
It was the lowest level in three years and the longest decline since July 2009, a month after the recession officially ended, Bloomberg reported.
“Manufacturing has been one of the stalwarts of an otherwise lackluster recovery but it’s starting to show some cracks,” Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Alabama, told Bloomberg.
Reuters said the employment component of the index fell to 51.6, the lowest since November 2009, from 52 in July.
Exports rose slightly to 47 in August from 46.5 in July.
Manufacturing activity has been contracting in most major economies, including the euro zone, Britain, China, Japan and Brazil.