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Empire State Manufacturing Survey Conditions Change Little


The December 2013 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing conditions were flat for New York manufacturers. The general business conditions index rose three points but, at 1.0, indicated that activity changed little over the month. The new orders index inched up, but remained negative at -3.5, while the shipments index rose to 7.7. The unfilled orders index fell to -24.1, and the inventories index declined twenty points to -21.7; both indexes reached their lowest levels since 2009. The prices paid index was little changed at 15.7, and the prices received index climbed to 3.6. Labor market conditions remained weak, with the index for number of employees holding at 0.0 for a second month in a row and the average workweek index dropping six points to -10.8. Indexes for the six-month outlook generally conveyed a fair degree of optimism about future conditions, though to a lesser extent than in the November survey.

This month’s supplementary questions asked manufacturers to assess how much of a problem certain business issues were for their firms and whether the issues were expected to become more or less of a problem in the year ahead. As in earlier surveys, the issue cited most frequently, by far, as a major problem was the cost of employee benefits. Moreover, fully 80 percent of respondents expected that this would become even more of a problem a year from now. Finding qualified workers emerged as the second most widespread problem, eliciting a considerably larger degree of concern than in earlier surveys. This, too, was expected to become more of a problem in the year ahead by a wide margin. In contrast, the availability, cost, and terms of credit were seen as relatively minor problems that would become even less consequential over the next year. For more details, see the full supplemental report.

Business Conditions Change Little
Manufacturing conditions were flat, according to the December survey. The general business conditions index rose three points but, at just 1.0, suggested that conditions were steady over the month. The new orders index inched up two points, but remained negative at -3.5—a sign that orders were slightly lower. The shipments index, however, rose eight points to 7.7, pointing to a modest increase in shipments. The unfilled orders index fell seven points to -24.1, its lowest level since 2009, suggesting that the backlog of orders declined significantly. The delivery time index declined six points to -9.6. The inventories index tumbled twenty points to -21.7, indicating that inventory levels fell sharply

Labor Market Conditions Remain Weak
Price indexes pointed to a continued moderate increase in input prices and a small increase in selling prices. The prices paid index was little changed at 15.7, while the prices received index rose eight points to 3.6. Labor market conditions remained weak. The index for number of employees was 0.0 for a second month in a row, indicating that employment levels remained unchanged. The average workweek index was negative for a second month; with a six-point decline to -10.8, the index signaled that workers were working fewer hours, on average.

Six-Month Outlook Somewhat Less Optimistic
Indexes for the six-month outlook remained fairly optimistic, but fell in the December survey. The future general business conditions index retreated two points to 35.7, holding just a little below the high levels it had displayed over the past several months. The future new orders index, however, fell fourteen points to 26.4, and the future shipments index declined six points to 32.0. The future prices paid index climbed six points to 48.2, and the future prices received index rose eleven points to 27.7. The index for expected number of employees fell thirteen points to 9.6. The capital expenditures index drifted down to 8.4, and the technology spending index dropped to 10.8.




Posted: December 16, 2013 Monday 08:30 AM




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