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Firms See Improvement in Manufacturing Activity

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Contact: Marilyn Wimp, E-mail Manager of Media Relations, (215) 574-4197

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Results from the Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity showed improvement in November. All of the survey's broad indicators of economic performance showed improvement from their reading in October, and firms reported an increase in employment and work hours. More firms reported increases in input prices this month, although downward pressure on the prices of firms' manufactured goods was still evident. The survey's broad indicators of future activity suggest that firms remain optimistic about growth over the next six months. The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of 1.0 in October to 22.5 in November.

Capacity Utilization: Special Questions

  • Firms were asked: (1) To characterize their capacity utilization in their plants currently and at the same time last year. (2) About plans for spending on plant and equipment next year.
  • The average capacity utilization rate among the firms polled increased from 69 percent in November 2009 to the current rate of 72 percent. The share of firms expecting to increase their capital spending on plant and equipment (38 percent) was greater than the share planning reductions (20 percent), which represents a marked improvement over last year when the same question was asked. And as a group, the firms expecting higher spending had a larger average increase in their capacity utilization rate compared with last year.


  • Price increases for inputs remain relatively widespread this month. Thirty-eight percent of the firms reported higher prices for inputs this month.
  • On balance, firms continued to report declines in prices for their own manufactured goods: Slightly more firms reported decreases in prices (16 percent) than reported increases (14 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 Marilyn Wimp, E-mail the Bank's media relations manager, at (215) 574-4197. The next Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, December 16, 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

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