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Manufacturers Continue to See Improvement

For immediate release
Contact: Katherine Dibling, E-mail Public Affairs Specialist, (215) 574-4119

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Results from the Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity continued to expand at a moderate pace in January. The general activity index, the survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, increased to 7.3 this month from a revised reading of 6.8 in December. Read the press release announcing the data revisions.

All of the broad indicators remained positive this month, and firms continued to report increases in employment. The survey's broad indicators of future activity improved again this month.

Special Questions: Factors Influencing Hiring Plans Over the Next 12 Months

  • Among firms planning to increase employment over the next six to 12 months, the most frequently cited reason influencing this decision was the expectation of high sales growth.
  • The most frequently cited factors among firms restraining hiring were the need to keep operating costs low and low expectations for sales growth. Uncertainty about regulations and government policies and the inability to find workers with required skills were also highly ranked factors.

Labor Market

  • Labor market conditions continue to show improvement, but the current employment index was virtually unchanged from December's reading.
  • The percentage of firms reporting an increase in employment (21 percent) was higher than the percentage reporting a decline (10 percent).


  • Thirty-five percent of the firms reported higher prices for inputs. The prices paid index has now edged higher for three consecutive months.
  • Firms also reported a rise in prices for manufactured goods: More firms reported increases in prices (21 percent) than reported decreases (10 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 public affairs specialist, at (215) 574-4119. The next Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, February 16, 2012, 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. (57 KB)

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