Australia's manufacturing industry has rebounded in recent times, to post its highest level in almost 15 years.

The Australian Industry (Ai) Group's Performance of Manufacuring Index (PMI) rose by 8.1 points in the month of February to 59.3, the strongest level of growth since May 2002.

The PMI score ranges from 0 to 100, with anything above 50 indicating improved activity levels while anything below 50 represents a decline.

"It's great that Australia is making again."

Manufacturers in top gear

Innes Willox, chief executive of Ai Group, said a range of manufacturing indicators – production, sales, exports and employment – all performed well in February.

"The period since 2002 has been particularly difficult for Australia's manufacturers in the face of the phenomenal expansion of China's manufacturing sector, extended periods of domestic currency strength and volatility in global confidence, activity and trade. So it's great that Australia is making again," said Mr Willox.

"The surge in February builds on a recovery from the sluggish performance in the third quarter of last year and marks a fifth month of expansion."

Almost all sectors in Australia's manufacturing industry, including food and beverage, have posted strong growth.Almost all sectors in Australia's manufacturing industry, including food and beverage, have posted strong growth.

Most sub-sectors posted growth

Almost all manufacturing sub-sectors grew in February. Machinery and equipment activities expanded, as did those in the non-metallic mineral products and food and beverage industries

A repeat in the performance will bode well for the Australian economy. However, Ai Group did note there are still some ongoing concerns. For example, increasing input costs and wages continue to outpace selling prices. Mr Willox also suggested that business confidence levels and energy security issues need to be boosted in order for the sector to continue to do well.

"Substantial challenges remain with further growth constrained by the lack of business investment in recent years and renewed fears about energy security and energy prices now top-of-mind particularly for our more energy-intensive manufacturers," he said.

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