Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region was “expanded at a slower pace in March,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index dropped to 15 from 28.

Index readings above zero show expansion, while numbers below zero indicate contraction.

Shipments slumped to 15 from 31, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders fell to 17 from 27, while the backlog of orders index dropped 10 from 18.

The capacity utilization index declined to 13 from 32, while the vendor lead time index slid to 16 from 18. The number of employees index decreased to 11 from 25, while the average workweek index plunged to 12 from 28 last month, and the wages index dipped to 22 from 23.

The current trend in prices paid rose to 2.39 in March from 1.89 in February, while slowing to 1.54 from 1.57 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months slid to 2.59 from 2.69 for prices paid, and gained to 1.84 from 1.74 for prices received.

All firms surveyed are located within the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

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