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Survey Results Suggest Continued Expansion in Manufacturing

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

Responses from manufacturing firms polled for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity continued to grow at a moderate pace in March. The diffusion index of current activity edged slightly higher, from a reading of 10.2 in February to 12.5, its highest reading since April of last year.

Firms continued to report price pressures, but responses suggest that pressures have eased from the previous month. The survey's indicators of future activity remained at levels consistent with continued optimism.

Special Questions: Expectations for Production Growth in the Second Quarter

  • Fifty-nine percent of the firms expect increases in production in the second quarter; 23 percent expect decreases. In March of last year, 75 percent of the firms were expecting growth and 10 percent were expecting declines in production.
  • The average growth expected among the reporting firms for the second quarter was about 1.4 percent. Nearly 58 percent of the firms said second-quarter production growth would represent an acceleration in growth (6 percent characterized it as “significant acceleration”; 51 percent said the expected growth represented “some acceleration”).

Labor Market

  • Firms' responses suggest a slight pickup in levels of employment this month.
  • Twenty-two percent of the firms reported an increase in employment, compared to 15 percent in February. Firms reporting a longer workweek (20 percent) only narrowly outnumbered those reporting a shorter one (17 percent), and the current workweek index decreased 7 points.


  • Indexes for prices paid and prices received both decreased this month, although positive diffusion indexes for both suggest that overall price pressures remain.
  • Twenty-four percent of the firms reported higher prices for inputs this month, down from 42 percent last month.
  • The prices paid index decreased 20 points, to 18.7, its first monthly decline in five months.

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, the Bank’s public affairs specialist, at (215) 574-4119. The next Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, April 19, 2012, and will be made available on our website and over Businesswire. External 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. (60 KB)

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