Empire State Manufacturing Improves, But a Bit More Slowly

August 15, 2014

by Doug Short

This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions continues to show improvement, although the headline number is is now at 14.7, down from 25.6 last month. The Investing.com forecast was for a reading of 20.0. The Empire State Manufacturing Index rates the relative level of general business conditions New York state. A level above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions. The reading is compiled from a survey of about 200 manufacturers in New York state.

Here is the opening paragraph from the report.


The August 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business conditions continued to improve for New York manufacturers, but the improvement was less widespread than in the previous month. The headline general business conditions index retreated eleven points to 14.7, after reaching a four-year high in July. The new orders index slipped almost five points to 14.1, while the shipments index edged up a point to 24.6—a multiyear high. The unfilled orders index inched down one point to -8.0. The indexes for both prices paid and prices received were up slightly, indicating a marginal pickup in the pace of price increases. Labor market conditions were mixed, with the employment index declining slightly but the index for hours worked rising modestly. Most of the indexes for the six-month outlook rebounded sharply, after slipping in the July survey; a number of them reached multiyear highs, signaling increasingly widespread optimism about the near-term outlook.

Here is a chart illustrating both the General Business Conditions and Future General Business Conditions (the outlook six months ahead):

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Click this link to access a PDF set of charts of the individual components over the past 12 months.

Since this survey only goes back to July of 2001, we only have one complete business cycle with which to evaluate its usefulness as an indicator for the broader economy. Following the Great Recession, the index has slipped into contraction multiple times, as the general trend slowed. It had remained in a relatively narrow range over the past year, but last three months have been higher.

Meanwhile, here's another look at the latest ISM Manufacturing Business Activity Index.

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I'll keep a close eye on some of the regional manufacturing indicators in the months ahead.

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