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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

Jan. 23, 2019 10 a.m.

Fifth District Manufacturing Activity Was Soft in January

Overview

Fifth District manufacturing activity was soft in January, according to the latest survey from the Richmond Fed. The composite index rose from −8 in December to −2 in January but continued to indicate weak growth. The rise from December came from increases in the component indexes of employment and shipments, although the shipments index remained negative. The third component, new orders, dropped to −11, its lowest reading since June 2016. Meanwhile, the index for backlog of orders fell to −21, its lowest reading since May 2009. However, manufacturers remained optimistic that conditions would improve in the coming months.

Survey results indicated continued growth in employment and wages in January, but firms still struggled to find workers with the skills they need. Respondents expected this struggle to continue, along with employment and wage growth, in the near future.

The growth rate of prices paid by survey respondents fell in January, but continued to outpace that of prices received, which held steady. Firms expected growth to slow for both prices paid and prices received in the next six months.

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Regional Survey Team (804) 697-8702