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Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity

December 22, 2020

Fifth District manufacturing activity showed signs of improvement in December, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite index rose from 15 in November to 19 in December, buoyed by increases in the indexes for new orders and employment, while the third component — the shipments index — declined but remained positive. Indexes for local business conditions and capital spending were also positive, and manufacturers were optimistic that conditions would improve in the coming months.

Survey results indicated that many firms increased employment and wages in December. However, manufacturers struggled to find workers with the necessary skills. They expected this difficulty to continue and both employment and wages to continue to grow in the next six months.

The average growth rate of prices paid by survey respondents declined slightly in December, while that of prices received rose, narrowing the gap between the two. Respondents expected growth of prices paid and received to increase in the near future.

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