In encouraging news about the economy, manufacturing activity grew for a sixth straight month in January, to its strongest point since 2004.  However, construction spending dropped sharply in December to its lowest level in more than six years.

Manufacturers have been pumping up production to feed their customers’ depleted stockpiles. The ISM said manufacturers’ inventories contracted at a slower rate in January, but their customers’ stockpiles fell to an all-time low. As their customers try to restock their shelves, manufacturers need to ramp up production to match their demands. That could mean hiring more workers.

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