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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

September 28, 2021

Fifth District manufacturing activity softened slightly in September, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite index declined from 9 in August to −3 in September. The indexes for shipments and new orders fell below 0 for the first time since May 2020, but the third component index — employment — remained positive. Manufacturers continued to see low inventories and lengthening lead times and backlogs of orders. Firms reported weakening local business conditions, but they were optimistic that conditions would improve in the next six months.

Survey results suggested that many firms increased employment and wages in September. However, finding workers with the necessary skills remained a challenge. Survey participants expected this difficulty to continue, along with employment and wage growth, in the coming months.

The average growth rate of prices paid by survey respondents increased in September, while that of prices received declined. Participants expected growth of both prices paid and prices received to slow in the next year.

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