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Conditions for New York manufacturers improved slightly in April, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows.
The general business conditions index was positive for a third consecutive month, though at 3.1, it suggests conditions improved only slightly. Twenty-five percent of respondents reported conditions had improved over the month, while 22 percent reported conditions had worsened.
The new orders index fell six points to 2.2. The shipments index, down seven points to 0.8, showed shipments were little changed. The unfilled orders index inched down a point to -3.4, and the delivery time index also fell one point to -3.4. The inventories index held steady at -4.6.
The prices paid index rose three points to 28.4, its highest level in several months. The prices received index rose four points to 5.7. The index for number of employees rose four points to 6.8, and the average workweek index rose six points to 5.7.
Indexes for the six-month outlook pointed to a moderate level of optimism about future business activity. The future general business conditions index fell four points to 32, while the future new orders and future shipments indexes were little changed from last month’s relatively strong levels.
In a series of supplementary questions, respondents were asked how much difficulty they had experienced finding workers proficient in mathematical, computer, interpersonal and other workplace skills. The most widespread difficulties related to the search for workers with advanced computer skills. A skill set that has grown harder to find is punctuality and reliability.
Responses to other supplemental questions indicated firms expected wages to rise by 2.5 percent, on average, over the next 12 months, and, for nearly one-third of firms, retaining skilled workers would become increasingly difficult.
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