Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (08/20/15)
Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region increased in August, according to firms responding to this month’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from 5.7 in July to 8.3 in August. This index has hovered in a low range since the beginning of the current year, far below the highs of late 2014. The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the survey’s current new orders index, remains low as well, falling slightly more than 1 point to 5.8 in August. However, the current shipments index rebounded 12 points to 16.7.
Firms’ responses suggest steady conditions in the regional labor market. The percentage of firms reporting an increase in employees in August (21%) exceeded the percentage reporting a decrease (16%), and the corresponding diffusion index for current employment increased 6 points, to 5.3. The percentage of firms reporting a longer workweek (16%) was greater than the percentage reporting a shorter workweek (7%).