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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

February 25, 2020

Fifth District manufacturing activity softened in February, according to the most recent survey from the Richmond Fed. The composite index fell from 20 in January to −2 in February. All three components of the composite index — shipments, new orders, and employment — moved lower from January. Firms also reported a decrease in backlog of orders. Still, the index for local business conditions remained positive, and manufacturers were optimistic that activity would improve in the coming months.

Survey results suggest that firms saw continued growth in employment and wages in February. However firms continued to struggle to find workers with the necessary skills, as this index dropped to −35. Respondents expected this struggle to continue but employment and wages to grow in the next six months.

The average growth rates of both prices paid and prices received by survey participants rose in February, as growth of prices paid surpassed that of prices received. Manufacturers expected this gap to widen in the near future.

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