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Firms See Increased Business Activity

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

Philadelphia, Pa. - Activity in the region's manufacturing sector is picking up, according to firms polled for November's Business Outlook Survey. Indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments all improved this month. The average work-hours index was positive for the first time in two years. The general activity index increased to 16.7 from 11.5 in October.

In the special questions, firms were asked to give their current capacity utilization and the rate at the peak of business before the recession. In addition, they were asked if they planned to increase or decrease spending on plant and equipment over the next year. They were also asked to give the rate of capacity utilization at which they would be inclined to increase spending.

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

"Manufacturing executives responding to the Business Outlook Survey reported a pickup in activity this month. For the fourth consecutive month, indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments were all positive. All of the indexes improved from their readings last month. The overall level of employment was mostly steady this month, and the average work hours index was positive for the first time in more than two years. Firms continued to report higher input prices, but prices for manufactured goods were near steady. The region's manufacturing executives still expect business to increase over the next six months, although overall optimism has waned somewhat in the past few months."

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, December 17, 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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