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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

October 27, 2020

Fifth District manufacturing activity strengthened in October, according to the most recent survey from the Richmond Fed. The composite index rose from 21 in September to 29 in October, its highest reading on record, buoyed by increases in the shipments and new orders indexes, while the third component — the employment index — was unchanged. Firms reported improving business conditions and growing backlogs of orders, overall. Manufacturers were optimistic that conditions would continue to improve in the coming months.

Survey results indicated that many manufacturers continued to increase employment and wages in October. However, firms struggled to find workers with the necessary skills. Contacts expected these trends to continue in the next six months.

The average growth rates of both prices paid and prices received by survey participants increased slightly in October. Growth of prices paid continued to outpace that of prices received, but contacts expected the gap to narrow in the near future.

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