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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

February 23, 2021

The Fifth District manufacturing activity continued to improve in February, according to the most recent survey from the Richmond Fed. The composite index held steady from January to February, at 14, as all three component indexes — shipments, new orders, and employment — remained firmly positive. The index for vendor lead time, which hit a 25-year-high of 39 in January, rose further to 46 in February. Firms also reported decreased inventory levels, as the index for raw materials inventories hit a series low of −8. Manufacturers were optimistic that conditions would improve in the coming months.

Survey results indicated that many manufacturers increased employment and wages in February. However, finding workers with the necessary skills was difficult. Respondents expected this difficulty to continue 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 continued to outpace that of prices received. Manufacturers expected this gap to narrow in the near future.

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