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Firms See Much Weaker Manufacturing Activity

For immediate release
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail Senior Media Representative, (215) 574-4119

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Regional manufacturing activity dipped significantly in August, according to the respondents to the Business Outlook Survey. The survey's indicators for activity, shipments, and new orders all declined sharply from their readings in July. The diffusion index of current activity decreased to -30.7 in August from 3.2 in July. The broadest indicator of future activity decreased to 1.4 from 23.7 in July.

Survey responses suggest a deterioration in the labor market compared with July. Indexes for prices were lower this month and show a continued trend of moderating price pressures.

Special Questions: Seasonal Factors and Production

  • Firms were asked about the importance of seasonal factors' influence on production.
  • Almost 40 percent said that seasonal factors have a significant influence on monthly production levels.
  • Nearly 29 percent of the firms had scheduled shutdowns or slowdowns during the summer months this year.

Labor Market

  • The current employment index fell 14 points to -5.2, recording its first negative reading in 12 months. Eighteen percent of the firms reported an increase in employment, but 23 percent reported a decrease.
  • The percentage of firms reporting a shorter workweek (28 percent) was greater than the percentage reporting a longer one (14 percent). The workweek index fell 9 points, to -14.4.


  • The prices paid index declined 12 points to 12.8 and has now declined 36 points over the last three months.
  • The prices received index decreased 10 points to -9.0, resulting in the first negative reading since last November.

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, September 15, 2011, 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 and savings and loan 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

Business Outlook Survey

Download the chart for this month's survey. (61 KB)

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