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Firms Continue to See Weakness

For release: 10 a.m., May 21, 2009
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail senior media representative, (215) 574-4119

Philadelphia, Pa. - The region's manufacturing sector continued to show weakness this month, according to the firms polled for the May Business Outlook Survey. Indexes for general activity, shipments, and employment did show some improvement. The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of -24.4 in April to -22.6 this month. In the special questions, manufacturers were asked about demand.

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

"Manufacturing executives responding to our Business Outlook Survey this month continue to report weakness in manufacturing. Most of the survey's broad indicators, however, improved from their readings in April. Special questions this month also confirmed that recent declines in demand have moderated at a significant proportion of the firms surveyed. One indicator of general weakness is that firms continued to report declines in prices for purchased inputs as well as for their own manufactured goods, although respective price indexes rebounded from their record lows in April. Most broad indicators for future business conditions improved markedly again this month, suggesting that an increasing number of the region's manufacturing executives expect a recovery in business activity before the end of the year."

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, June 18, 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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