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July 18 -- The U.S. Census Bureau plans to request an extension of the current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance of the Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders (M3) survey. The M3 survey requests data monthly from domestic manufacturers on form M–3 (SD). Data requested are shipments, new orders, unfilled orders, total inventory, materials and supplies, work-in-process, and finished goods.

The M3 survey is designed to measure current industrial activity and to provide an indication of future production commitments. The value of shipments measures the value of goods delivered during the month by domestic manufacturers. Estimates of new orders serve as an indicator of future production commitments and represent the current sales value of new orders received during the month, net of cancellations. Substantial accumulation or depletion of unfilled orders measures excess or deficient demand for manufactured products. The level of inventories, especially in relation to shipments, is frequently used to monitor the business cycle, by calculating the inventories to sales ratio. In general, a low ratio indicates strong shipments. A high ratio indicates weaker shipments or accumulation of inventories in stock.

In October 2021, we accelerated total manufacturing and the nondurable manufacturing aggregate estimates to the same time as the Advance Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders by creating an advance high-level report of total manufacturing. This exception to the normal procedure was initially approved by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in September 2021 and has been subsequently extended annually through means of a separately submitted memo. This exception has permitted the public release of preliminary monthly data on shipments and inventories of total manufacturing under the provisions of the OMB's Statistical Policy Directive No. 3 on the Compilation, Release and Evaluation of Principal Federal Economic Indicators. The Census Bureau will request that provisions for the early release of total manufacturing shipments and inventories be included in the clearance, thereby eliminating the need for a separate annual re-approval from OMB for the early release.

Currently, the Advance report on Durable goods is available approximately 18 working days after each month, with the Full report available approximately 23 working days after each month. Accelerating the nondurable release provides data users with early access to total manufacturing estimates ahead of the Full Report, giving them an early snapshot of the direction of this critical indicator. Additionally, in September 2024 we plan to include additional nondurable goods industry level data, to provide more detail estimates at the advance time.
 
Census M3 Survey: https://www.census.gov/manufacturing/m3
Draft data collection instrument and technical documentation: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/fxv1h2auxjqbsskog64tl/refwdrafticrrequestmanufacturersshipmentsinven.zip?rlkey=nn7zzpcpew35y8lzcstw5lz9o&dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-15186

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