The July Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing activity expanded modestly over the month.
- The general business conditions index rose five points to 7.4.
- New orders declined, as that index slipped into negative territory for the first time since November 2011, falling five points to -2.7.
- The shipments index increased five points to 10.3, indicating a rise in shipments.
- The prices paid index declined for a fourth consecutive month, dropping twelve points to 7.4, its lowest level since mid-2009.
- The prices received index inched up three points to 3.7.
- Employment levels climbed higher, with the employment index rising six points to 18.5.
- The average workweek index fell three points to zero.
- Future indexes were generally positive, but many continued to drift downward and suggested that the level of optimism about future conditions remains below the level earlier this year.
Supplemental Questions on Sales Performance
In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked about their sales performance and expectations for 2012 compared with 2011.
- The median respondent reported that sales were up 4.5 percent for the first half of 2012 compared with the first six months of 2011, and are expected to be up 5 percent for the full calendar year—values slightly lower than what were reported in last July’s survey.
- In the current survey, the median respondent indicated a 2 percent increase in the number of employees—both for the first half of this year and for what is expected for the full-year 2012.
- Moderately more respondents indicated that they had ramped up rather than scaled back production plans since the beginning of the year, reflecting a bit more optimism than last year’s responses suggested.