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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

March 24, 2020

Fifth District manufacturing activity remained fairly flat in March, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite index remained close to 0, rising from −2 in February to 2 in March. The indexes for shipments and new orders were above their February values, but the third component — employment — decreased. Manufacturers reported weakening local business conditions and a decrease in backlog of orders. Survey respondents were pessimistic, expecting weaker business conditions and a drop in shipments and new orders in the coming months.

Survey results suggested a drop in employment but continued growth in wages in recent weeks. Employers continued to struggle to find workers with the necessary skills and expected this difficulty to persist in the next six months.

Manufacturers reported a drop in the growth rates of both prices paid and prices received, with growth of prices paid slightly outpacing that of prices received. Growth rates of both prices paid and prices received were expected to increase in the near future.

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