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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

Manufacturing firms responding to the Business Outlook Survey indicate that regional manufacturing activity expanded modestly in April. The survey’s diffusion index of current activity edged down to 8.5 from a reading of 12.5 in March.

Indicators for new orders and shipments all remained positive but fell slightly from their readings last month; however, the indicator for current employment showed notable improvement. The broad indicators of future activity remained at relatively high readings, and firms were more optimistic about their plans for hiring over the next six months.

Labor Market

  • Firms’ responses suggest a notable pickup in levels of employment this month.
  • The current employment index, which has been positive for eight consecutive months, increased 11 points, to its highest reading in 11 months.
  • Twenty-seven percent of the firms reported an increase in employment; 9 percent reported declines.
  • The average workweek was near steady this month, with 75 percent of the firms surveyed reporting no change in average hours.


  • Indexes for prices paid and prices received both increased, suggesting that price pressures are only slightly more widespread this month compared to March.
  • Twenty-seven percent of the firms reported higher prices for inputs this month, compared with 25 percent last month.
  • Firms also reported a rise in prices for their own manufactured goods: More firms reported price increases (17 percent) than reported decreases (8 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, the Bank’s public affairs specialist, at (215) 574-4119. The next Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m., Thursday, May 17, 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. (62 KB)

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