American manufacturing growth remained sluggish in August, as exports declined for a third consecutive month and companies were slow to add new workers, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
The final Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index stood at 51.5 at the end of August, below a preliminary estimate of 51.9. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, Reuters reported.
A slight increase in output and overall new orders helped nudge the index above 51.4, where it stood at the end of July.
But the pace of growth was still one of the weakest since the sector stopped shrinking in October 2009. New export orders were a drag on activity, as slow or negative growth in Europe and elsewhere sapped foreign demand for U.S. products.
Mark Wingham, a Markit Group Ltd. economist, said expansion in the sector was "only modest" in August. Without a significant jump in activity next month, "third quarter manufacturing growth will likely be one of the weakest since recovery began," he said.
Hiring by manufacturers in August was the slowest it's been since December 2010, which partly reflected weak overall trends in output and new orders. The index's employment component fell to 52.4 from 52.7 in July.
The U.S. government will report employment data for August later this week, and the median forecast of economists polled by Reuters is for a gain of 120,000 jobs, down from 163,000 in July.