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Manufacturing Firms See Expansion

For release: 10 a.m., December 17, 2009
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail senior media representative, (215) 574-4119

Philadelphia, Pa. - Activity in the region's manufacturing sector is expanding, according to firms polled for December's Business Outlook Survey. Indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments all remained positive this month. Indicative of improvement, the overall level of employment and average work hours among reporting firms increased this month. The general activity index increased to 20.4 this month from 16.7 in November.

In this month's special questions, firms were asked about their expectations for changes in various categories of input and labor costs for the coming year. Similar to responses in previous years, the largest annual increase is expected to be for health benefits (8.6 percent). In contrast, other labor costs (wages and non-health-care costs) are expected to rise only 1.3 and 1.6 percent, respectively.

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

"Manufacturing executives responding to the Business Outlook Survey reported growth in activity this month. For the fifth consecutive month, indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments were all positive. Indicative of improvement, the overall level of employment and average work hours among reporting firms also increased this month. A larger percentage of firms reported higher input prices this month, 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 diminished again this month."

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. On Thursday, January 14, the survey's annual historical revisions, which incorporate new seasonal adjustment factors, will be released. The next Business Outlook Survey survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, January 21, 2010, 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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