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Empire State Manufacturing Survey Conditions Improved Faster
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers improved at an accelerated pace in April. The general business conditions index rose for a fifth consecutive month, reaching 21.7, its highest level in a year. The new orders index jumped 17 points, to 22.3, and the shipments index shot up 27 points to 28.3. The indexes for both prices paid and prices received rose to their highest levels in more than a year, indicating that price increases continued to accelerate. The index for number of employees climbed to 23.1, while the average workweek index edged down to 10.3. Future indexes continued to convey great optimism about the six-month outlook, and the capital spending and technology spending indexes were noticeably higher.
In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked to assess the extent to which certain business issues posed problems for their firms and to indicate whether each issue was expected to become more or less of a problem over the next year. As in last April's survey, the issue cited most frequently as a major problem was the cost of employee benefits, followed by government regulation and taxes. Finding qualified workers was also considered a fairly widespread problem, substantially more so than a year ago. The issues in the current survey seen as least problematic were depressed real estate values, the cost and terms of credit, and credit availability and access. In response to a topical question added to this month's survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated that the crisis in Japan was having little or no effect on their business.
Manufacturing Activity Gains Further Momentum
The general business conditions index advanced for a fifth consecutive month in April, rising four points to 21.7. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while just 13 percent—the lowest share in more than five years—reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index climbed 17 points to 22.3, its highest level in a year. The shipments index surged 27 points to 28.3. The unfilled orders index held steady at 2.6, and the delivery time index was unchanged at -1.3. The inventories index fell for a second consecutive month, dipping below zero for the first time since December; at -1.3, it indicated that inventory levels were slightly lower
Posted: April 15, 2011 Friday 08:30 AM