While there are signs of continuing economic recovery, parts of the IT sector remain in the dumps. According to the Commerce Department's latest report on factory orders, released Wednesday, the computer industry fared worse in three indicators in September: New orders were $5.4 billion, down from $5.5 billion in August; shipments were $5.1 billion, down from $5.2 billion in August; and inventories were $2.7 billion, up from $2.6 billion in August.
But there was an encouraging indicator in the report. Unfilled orders for the computer industry were $8.9 billion in September, up from $8.7 billion in August. An increase in unfilled orders indicates that companies are having a harder time keeping up with demand. In another positive sign, shipments of computer storage devices rose from $1.3 billion in August to $1.5 billion in September, while inventories held steady at $1.2 billion.
The overall weak results for the computer industry contrast with stronger results for the economy as a whole. Total factory orders in September were $331.1 billion, up 0.5% from August, and numbers for shipments, unfilled orders and inventories were also strong. Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates, says the data were in line with expectations, and suggest that business spending will continue to be strong.