Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region was “slower” in January, according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index declined to 14 from 20.

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

Shipments slid to 15 from 24, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders held at 16, while the backlog of orders index reversed to positive 5 from negative 4.

The capacity utilization index fell to 13 from 16, while the vendor lead time index surged to 18 from 6. The number of employees index plunged to 10 from 20, while the average workweek index fell to 2 from 8 last month, and the wages index crept to 24 from 22.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 45, up from 44 last month, while the volume of new orders index decreased to 36 from 44, and backlog of orders rose to 25 from 22. Capacity utilization dropped to 30 from 35, the vendor lead time index gained to 13 from 7, the number of employees index declined to 21 from 26, while the average workweek index was at 7, off from 9 the previous month, and the wages index was 33, after a 44 reading last month. The capital expenditures index fell to 30 from 35.

The current trend in prices paid remained at 1.79 in January from 1.79 in December, while slowing to 1.18 from 1.27 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months rose to 2.33 from 2.10 for prices paid, and slipped to 1.58 from 2.02 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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