Conditions decline for N.Y. manufacturers

By ANDREA DECKERT - 1/15/2013 2:31:03 PM

Conditions for New York manufacturers continued to decline at a modest pace for a sixth consecutive month in January, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates.

The general business conditions index was little changed at -7.8, with 26 percent of respondents reporting conditions had improved over the month, and 34 percent reporting conditions had worsened. The new orders index fell four points to -7.2. After two months of positive readings, the shipments index dropped 15 points to -3.1. The unfilled orders index was little changed at -7.5. The delivery time index held steady at -2.2, and the inventories index remained negative at -8.6.

The prices paid index rose six points to 22.6; 25 percent of respondents reported input prices had increased and just 2 percent reported input prices had dropped. The prices received index rose 10 points to 10.8. The index for number of employees was -4.3, and the average workweek index was -5.4. Although these readings were somewhat higher than in December, both indexes were negative for a fourth consecutive month, the report shows.

Indexes for the six-month outlook remained positive and rose slightly, but generally stayed at levels below those seen a year earlier. The future general business conditions index rose four points to 22.4, with 41 percent of respondents expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead and 18 percent expecting conditions to worsen.

In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked about anticipated changes in their workforce and the factors underlying these changes. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents indicated they expected the total number of workers at their firm to increase over the next 12 months, while 19 percent predicted declines in their workforce.

Among firms planning to boost employment, high expected sales growth was widely reported to be the most important impetus to hiring; conversely, low expected sales growth was most widely cited as the primary restraint on hiring.

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