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Firms See Little Change in Business Activity

For immediate release
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail senior media representative, (215) 574-4119

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Results from the Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity was nearly flat in September. For the second consecutive month, firms reported a decline
in both new orders and shipments. The general activity index increased to -0.7 from a reading of -7.7 in August.

Employment levels remained steady this month, but firms reported declines in average work hours.

The survey's broad indicators of future activity continue to suggest that the region's manufacturing executives expect growth in business over the next six months, but optimism remains below levels earlier in the year.

Special Questions: Expectations for Production

  • Almost 50 percent of the firms said total production would end higher for the third quarter compared with the second quarter but 36 percent indicated it would be lower.
  • The average growth rate among firms was a tepid 0.6 percent for the quarter.
  • For the upcoming fourth quarter, the percentage of firms that expect a deceleration in production growth (48 percent) is higher than the percentage expecting an acceleration (24 percent).


  • Firms reported declines in prices for their own manufactured goods. More firms reported decreases in prices (21 percent) than reported increases (7 percent).
  • Cost pressures continue to ease among the reporting firms. The prices paid index has declined 33 points over the last five months and is at its lowest reading in 13 months.

New orders and Shipments

  • Indexes for new orders and shipments continued to indicate weakness this month.
  • The new orders index fell 1 point, remaining negative for the third consecutive month.
  • The shipments index decreased 3 points, remaining negative for the second consecutive 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. 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 Dibling, E-mail the Bank's senior media representative, at (215) 574-4119. The next Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, October 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.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia helps formulate and implement monetary policy, supervises banks and bank holding companies, and provides financial services to depository institutions and the federal government. It is one of the 12 regional Reserve Banks that, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank serves eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.

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