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Manufacturers See an Increase in Activity

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

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Responses to October's Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing
activity is showing signs of recovery, following several months of decline. The survey's indicators for activity, shipments, and new orders recorded positive readings after two months in negative territory. The diffusion index of current activity increased to 8.7 in October from -17.5 in September.

The broadest indicator of future activity remained positive and showed marginal improvement over its reading last month. The future general activity index increased to 27.2 in October from 21.4 in September

Special Questions: Workforce Changes

  • The survey participants responded to special questions about changes in their workforce and the changing use of flexible workers over the past year.
  • Forty-six percent of the respondents to the special questions reported that they had increased their total workforce in the past year. Twenty-four percent said they had decreased their workforce.
  • Seventy-four percent of the firms indicated they used temporary or agency workers. Thirty-six percent of these firms said that they have increased the total share of these workers over the past year.

Labor Market

  • The labor market improved only slightly this month. Nearly 18 percent of the firms reported an increase in employment, but 17 percent reported a decrease. The current employment index remained positive but decreased 4 points from its reading last month.
  • However, the average workweek index increased notably from -13.7 to 3.1. However, the percentage of firms reporting a longer workweek (15 percent) was only slightly greater than the percentage reporting a shorter one (12 percent).


  • The majority of firms (69 percent) reported steady prices for their own manufactured products in October. The percentage of firms reporting decreases in prices for their manufactured goods (15 percent) was slightly higher than the percentage reporting price increases (12 percent) this month.
  • Increasing costs were, on balance, slightly less widespread this month compared to last month. Nearly 31 percent of firms reported paying higher prices for inputs this month, and 11 percent reported lower prices.

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 17, 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. (62 KB)

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Daneil Mazone E-mail
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(215) 574-7163
(267) 535-1808 (cell)

Joey Lee E-mail
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(215) 983-6820 (cell)