U.S. factories are ailing. They have suffered from a global slowdown. They have tried to navigate the uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump’s tariffs and threats of additional import taxes. Auto unions have been pushing for more generous contracts, with the General Motors strike that occurred in September and October having disrupted supply chains around the country. For the past four months, the economy’s manufacturing sector has been shrinking, according to an Institute for Supply Management report that was released Monday.
That slump could start hitting the broader economy. Measures of new orders and employment tumbled in November to leave the overall index at 48.1. (Any reading below 50 means the sector is contracting.) That decline could foreshadow whether overall factory employment will swing from gains to losses. For the 12 months that ended in October, manufacturers had added only 49,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. That is down from an annual pace of more than 260,000 at the end of 2018.