Richmond Fed: Manufacturing growth moderate; skilled workers hard to find

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Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region “grew moderately in November,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index dipped to 14 from 15.

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

“While survey results suggested growth in employment and wages among manufacturing firms in November, the struggle to find workers with the required skills persisted,” the survey noted. “The skills index dropped to a record low of −26, and respondents expected this difficulty to persist in the near future.”

Additionally, prices paid and received “grew in November, although at a slower rate than in October,” according to the release.

Shipments grew to 12 from 7, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders slid to 17 from 20, while the backlog of orders index gained to 15 from 13.

The capacity utilization index declined to 9 from 20, while the vendor lead time index jumped to 35 from 23. The number of employees index slid to 11 from 19, the available skills fell to negative 26 from negative 22, while the average workweek index decreased to 11 from 16 last month, and the wages index rose to 34 from 28.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 30, down from 49 last month, while the volume of new orders index decreased to 27 from 43, and backlog of orders fell to 1 from 21. Capacity utilization slid to 29 from 36, the vendor lead time index gained to 22 from 20, the number of employees index dipped to 32 from 33, the available skills fell to negative 29 from negative 25, while the average workweek index decreased to 11 from 15 last month, and the wages index fell to 58 from 59. The capital expenditures index slid to 37 from 38.

The current trend in prices paid fell to 4.70 in November from 5.68 in October, while slowing to 2.13 from 2.84 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months gained to 3.92 from 3.87 for prices paid, and dipped to 2.60 from 2.66 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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Economic indicators Manufacturing industry Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond