Manufacturing in New York state grew for a second month in July but at a much slower pace, as new orders and shipments both slipped.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday that its Empire State manufacturing index dropped to 9.8 from 19.8 in June. Any reading above zero signals expansion.
July's drop comes after the index reached a two-year high in June. Still, the reading is at a mostly healthy level. While the index measures sentiment among New York firms, it is closely followed by economists because it provides an early read on factory output nationwide.
A measure of new orders dropped to 13.3 from 18.1, while a gauge of shipments dropped to 10.5 from 22.3. Hiring also slowed sharply. Manufacturers in the state are optimistic about business conditions over the next six months, but that optimism fell a bit this month.
U.S. factories have been mostly expanding since the fall, though at a modest pace with only limited hiring. Nationwide, manufacturing output climbed 0.2 percent in June, after falling in May. And a private survey earlier this month found that factory activity in June reached a nearly three-year high.
Still, manufacturing firms added just 8,000 jobs in the April-June quarter.