The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Business Barometer rose to 62.5 in November from 60.6 in October, the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said Tuesday.

Index readings below 50 signal a slowing economy, while levels above 50 suggest expansion. Economists predicted a 60.0 reading for the seasonally adjusted indicator.

Chicago-area production rose to 71.3 from 69.8, its highest level since February 2005, while new orders increased to 67.2 from 65.0 and order backlogs fell to 48.9 from 49.2.

The employment index rose to 56.3 from 54.6 and prices paid edged upward to 70.7 from 68.9. Inventories slid to 48.4 from 54.9 as demand depleted stockpiles and supplier deliveries fell to 60.4 from 62.8.

“Manufacturing activity in the Chicago region expanded again in November, to its fastest pace since April, and has now been growing for 14 consecutive months,” Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said in a research note.

“Moreover, it is growing robustly, unlike what has been reported for some other regions,” he added. “However, because the substantial declines over the previous year, the level of manufacturing activity remains relatively low with ample unused capacity.”

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