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Conditions were flat for New York manufacturers in December, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows.
The general business conditions index rose three points but, at 1.0, suggested conditions were steady over the month.
The new orders index inched up two points, but remained negative at -3.5. The shipments index, however, rose eight points to 7.7. The unfilled orders index fell seven points to -24.1, its lowest level since 2009. The delivery time index declined six points to -9.6. The inventories index tumbled 20 points to -21.7.
The prices paid index was little changed at 15.7, while the prices received index rose eight points to 3.6. The index for number of employees was zero for a second consecutive month. The average workweek index was negative for a second month, with a six-point decline to -10.8.
The future general business conditions index retreated two points to 35.7, holding just a little below the high levels it had displayed over the past several months.
This month’s supplementary questions in the survey asked manufacturers to assess how much of a problem certain business issues were for their firms and whether the issues were expected to become more or less of a problem in the year ahead.
As in earlier surveys, the issue cited most frequently, by far, as a major problem was the cost of employee benefits. Some 80 percent of respondents expected this would become even more of a problem a year from now.
Finding qualified workers emerged as the second-most widespread problem, eliciting a considerably larger degree of concern than in earlier surveys. In contrast, the availability, cost and terms of credit were seen as relatively minor problems that would become less consequential over the next year.
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