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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

January 23, 2024

Fifth District manufacturing activity remained sluggish in January, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite manufacturing index decreased from −11 in December to −15 in January. Of its three component indexes, shipments edged up from −17 to −15, new orders edged down from −14 to −16, and employment fell notably, from −1 to −15.

Firms remained somewhat pessimistic about local business conditions, as the index increased slightly but remained in negative territory. The index for future local business conditions increased from −5 in December to 0 in January.

Most firms continued to report declining backlogs as the index remained negative. The vendor lead time index decreased from 1 to −3 in January. The capacity utilization index fell from −8 to −27 in January, with about one-third of respondents reporting a decline in capacity utilization since December. However, the corresponding expectations index changed little from last month.

The average growth rates of prices paid and prices received were nearly unchanged in January. Firms expect both growth rates to moderate over the next 12 months.

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