Research >> Economics
Philadelphia Fed Sept Outlook showing signs of growth
The region's manufacturing sector is showing signs of growth, according to firms polled for this month's Business Outlook Survey. Indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments all registered positive readings for the second consecutive month. Indexes for employment, work hours, and the prices received for manufactured goods remained negative, suggesting continued weakness. The survey's broad indicators of future activity continued to suggest that the region's manufacturing executives expect business activity to increase over the next six months.
Current Indicators Suggest Modest Growth
The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from 4.2 in August to 14.1 this month. This is the highest reading since June 2007 and the second consecutive positive reading (see Chart). The percentage of firms reporting increases in activity (33 percent) exceeded the percentage reporting decreases (19 percent). Other broad indicators also suggested some growth this month. The current new orders index also remained positive for the second consecutive month, although it edged one point lower, to 3.3. The current shipments index increased eight points and has now increased 18 points over the last two months. Firms reported declines in inventories this month: The current inventory index declined 18 points, from 0.3 in August to -18.1. Indicators for unfilled orders and delivery times remained negative, suggesting continued weakness.
Labor market conditions remain weak, despite signs of improvement in overall activity. The current employment index decreased slightly, from -12.9 to -14.3. Overall declines, however, are still not as widespread as in the first six months of this year. Twenty-four percent of firms reported declines in employment this month; only 10 percent reported employment increases. Although the workweek index remained negative, the index edged two points higher, to -3.9.
Posted: September 17, 2009 Thursday 10:00 AM