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Firms See Steady Business Activity in October

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 steady in October. Although the broad survey measures showed marginal improvement this month, the new orders index continued to suggest weak demand for manufactured goods. The general activity index increased to 1.0 from a reading of -0.07 in September.

Firms reported near steady employment again this month, but lower average work hours for existing employees.

The survey's broad indicators of future activity suggest that optimism among the region's manufacturing executives improved notably this month.

Workforce Changes: Special Questions

  • Firms were asked: (1) Has your total workforce decreased, increased, or stayed the same over the last year? (2) How has the mix (as a share) of total employees changed?
  • Although the share of firms that increased their total workforce over the past year (40 percent) narrowly outnumbered those decreasing their workforce (35 percent), the mix of employment changed for many firms. For example, 64 percent of firms indicated that they used temporary or agency workers, and 32 percent indicated that they increased the total share of these workers over the past year.


  • Price increases for inputs were more widespread this month. Thirty-four percent of the firms reported higher prices for inputs, compared with 23 percent in the previous month.
  • On balance, firms continued to report declines in prices for their own manufactured goods: More firms reported decreases in prices (16 percent) than reported increases (7 percent).

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, November 18, 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.

Related Resources

Latest Chart for State Coincident Indexes

Download the chart for this month's survey. (51 KB)

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