Manufacturing has been a lagging economic sector in the past year.
The biggest problem for the sector right now, said economist Steve Murphy at Capital Economics, is the strong U.S. dollar. It makes U.S. exports more expensive for overseas companies and consumers, and puts competing suppliers from countries with weaker currencies at an advantage.
Murphy said the strong dollar began taking a toll on U.S. manufacturers in early 2016. And even automobile production can’t be counted on to spark a rebound in manufacturing, he said.