The mid-Atlantic region manufacturing sector improved in January, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s monthly Business Outlook Survey.
The manufacturing index rose to 8.3 from December’s -2.3, as 25 percent of the firms surveyed indicated increased activity. The new orders index increased to 1.3 from -0.9, indicating that demand for manufactured goods is still sluggish.
The shipments index rose 10 points from December to 23.9. Other indexes showed shorter delivery times and fewer unfilled orders.
When it comes to employment, 21 percent of the firms that participated in the survey had an increase, versus the 13 percent that saw a decrease. The employment index remained almost unchanged from December.
The average workweek index was four points higher, but the 16 percent of firms indicating longer hours was close to the 15 percent that indicated shorter hours.
The prices paid index decreased, continuing a six-month trend, with 24 percent seeing higher input prices and 12 percent seeing lower prices. Prices received was up 3 points for January, but 72 percent of manufacturers saw stable prices, while 19 percent saw increase and 7 percent saw decreases.
More optimism is in the forecast for manufacturing for the next six months, as the future general activity index rose to 22.4 from December’s 5.4, marking the highest level in nine months.
Future new orders and shipments were also up 11 and 12 points, respectively, as was the future employment index. Thirty-six percent of firms anticipate an increase in employment, while 15 percent expect a decrease.