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Federal Reserve Regional Banks: Manufacturing Activity Mixed in May

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (05/21/15)

Manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region increased modestly in May, according to firms responding to this month’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. However, the survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from 7.5 in April to 6.7 in May.

Firms’ responses suggest some weakening in labor market conditions this month compared with April. Although the percentage of firms reporting an increase in employees in May (19%) exceeded the percentage reporting a decrease (13%), the current employment index fell five points, to 6.7. The percentage of firms reporting a shorter workweek (25%) was greater than the percentage reporting a longer workweek (19%).

Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported that manufacturing activity in the Plains states declined in May and producers’ expectations also fell, with both reaching their lowest levels since mid-2009, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. However, most price indexes increased slightly, reversing a recent trend of decline. In a special question about hiring plans, the majority of firms indicated they were planning to either leave employment levels unchanged or increase them slightly over the next 12 months.