Manufacturers’ after-tax profit totaled $28.6 billion in the first quarter of the year, down 4.9% or $1.5 billion from the final quarter of 1989, the Commerce Department said Monday.
After-tax profit averaged 4.2 cents per dollar of sales in the first three months of the year, a decline of 0.2 cents from the previous three months, the department’s Census Bureau said.
“We’ve seen profits bear much of the brunt of the economic slowdown,” said Lynn Reaser, senior economist at First Interstate Bancorp. “Profits were weak through much of last year and that softness has continued.”
But Reaser added: “I think we’ll see some improvement in the latter part of the year. Manufacturers have pared down their payrolls. They have become very lean as companies attempt to protect their profit margins.”
Sales in January, February and March totaled $683.5 billion, a gain of 0.4% or $2.9 billion from October, November and December, the department said. The figures were adjusted to reflect seasonal factors.
Food and printing businesses contributed to a significant decline in first-quarter profits for the makers of non-durable goods.