The U.S. manufacturing renaissance may have an invisible hand guiding it along: the energy sector, which is in the midst of its own breakneck expansion.
The heavily chronicled shale boom that has propelled U.S. oil production to historical peaks also may be greasing the wheels of manufacturing, which suffered for years as production moved to cheaper havens overseas. Now, however, the once-beleaguered sector is expanding briskly. Last week the Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in 30 months in November.
While ISM does not break out energy-related manufacturing specifically, Brad Holcomb, chairman of its manufacturing business survey committee, said the rise of shale production has definitely had an impact on manufacturing gains "since energy affects everything."
The petroleum and coal industries have expanded each month since June, he added, representing about 10 percent of manufacturing growth.