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Firms Still See Contraction in Manufacturing

For release: 10 a.m., March 19, 2009
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail senior media representative, (215) 574-4119

Philadelphia, Pa. - The region's manufacturing sector continued to contract this month, according to the firms polled for the March Business Outlook Survey. The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, edged higher, from a reading of -41.3 in February to -35.0 this month. In the special questions, manufacturers were asked to give their production estimates for the second quarter of this year.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Senior Economic Analyst Mike Trebing summarized the survey:

"Manufacturing executives responding to our Business Outlook Survey this month continue to report broad-based weakness in manufacturing. All of the survey's broad indicators — general activity, new orders, shipments, and employment — remained negative and are at very low levels. Over one-half of the firms reported lower employment this month. Firms continued to report declines in prices for purchased inputs as well as for their own manufactured goods. While the region's manufacturing executives continue to expect some recovery over the next six months, most indicators of future activity fell this month. Firms expect employment losses to continue, and plans for capital spending continue to be reduced."

This survey, which was started in 1968, gathers information on the manufacturing industry in the Third Federal Reserve District covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Participation in the survey is limited to manufacturing firms with plants in the area with more than 100 employees. The survey asks about the current pace of business in the participants' plants and their future expectations of business.

To arrange an interview, contact Katherine Q. Dibling, E-mail the Bank's senior media representative, at (215) 574-4119. The next survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, April 16, 2009, and will be made available on our website, and over Businesswire. External Link The aggregate historical data series is also available on the Bank's website.

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