Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

March 28, 2017 10 a.m.

Manufacturing Firms Upbeat in March with Shipments, New Orders, and Employment Indexes Rising

Overview

Manufacturers in the Fifth District were generally upbeat in March, according to the latest survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The index for shipments and new orders both rose and employment gains were more common. This improvement led to a composite index for manufacturing that rose from 17 in February to 22 in March — the strongest reading for that index since April 2010. In addition to improvement in the employment index, more firms reported longer workweeks and wage increases appeared to be more widespread.

Looking six months ahead, manufacturing executives were generally optimistic, although for some indicators, they were less optimistic than in February. For example, the expected shipments index fell from 53 to 44 and the expected new order index fell from 53 to 48. On the other hand, some indexes rose, such as the indexes for expected employment, average workweek, and wages.

Survey respondents reported that growth in both prices paid and prices received moderated slightly, as did expectations for price growth six months ahead.

Charts

Index Table

Survey Participation, Report, and Data Questions

Jeannette Plamp
Associate Regional Economist
(804) 697-8152