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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

January 26, 2021

The Fifth District manufacturing sector showed signs of growth in January, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite index fell from 19 in December to 14 in January but remained in expansionary territory, as did all three of its component indexes — shipments, new orders, and employment. Manufacturers reported lengthening vendor lead times, as this index rose to 39, its highest reading since January 1996. Overall, manufacturers were optimistic that conditions would continue to improve in the coming months.

Survey results indicated that many manufacturers increased employment and wages in January. However, respondents struggled to find workers with the necessary skills. Firms expected this difficulty to persist but employment and wages to rise in the next six months.

The average growth rates of both prices paid and prices received by survey participants increased in January, as growth of prices paid continued to outpace that of prices received. Respondents expected this trend to continue in the near future.

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