The purpose of the Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders (M3) survey is to provide broad-based monthly statistical data on current economic conditions and indications of future production commitments in the manufacturing sector.
The M3 is based upon data reported from manufacturing establishments with $500 million or more in annual shipments. Units may be divisions of diversified large companies, large homogenous companies, or single-unit manufacturers in 89 industry categories.
The M3 provides statistics on manufacturers' value of shipments, new orders (net of cancellations), end-of-month order backlog (unfilled orders), end-of-month total inventory, materials and supplies, work-in-process, and finished goods inventories (at current cost or market value). Data are collected and tabulated predominantly by 6-digit NAICS (North American Industry Classification System).
The survey has been conducted monthly by the US Census Bureau since 1957.
Data are collected electronically by an Internet-based survey form (Centurion). Data describe activities taking place during the referenced calendar month.
There are two press releases per month. The first, Advance Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders is available about 18 working days after each month. The second, Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders includes durable and non-durable manufacturing and is available about 23 working days after each month.
Bureau of Economic Analysis uses M3 data to make GDP estimates and compiles the principal economic indicator series. The Federal Reserve Board, Department of Treasury, Council of Economic Advisers develop fiscal and monetary policy. Corporate economists, trade associations, news media, academia, investment consultants, and researchers use M3 data for analysis and forecasting of future economic conditions.