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September 2019 Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey

Responses to the September Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest an expansion of nonmanufacturing activity in the region. The index for general activity at the firm level and the index for sales/revenues both moderated slightly, while the new orders index held steady. The index for full-time employment remained stable. The firms continued to report overall increases in the prices of both their own goods and their inputs. The respondents continued to anticipate growth over the next six months.

Current and Future General Activity Indexes for Firms

Firms Report Overall Growth

The diffusion index for current general activity at the firm level decreased 3 points to 29.4 in September (see Chart 1). Forty-one percent of the firms reported increases in activity, and 12 percent reported decreases. The new orders index was little changed, at 9.7, after a 16-point fall in August. The share of firms reporting increases in new orders (22 percent) was higher than the share reporting decreases (12 percent). The sales/revenues index fell from 28.5 in August to 22.5 in September. Nearly 40 percent of the responding firms reported increases in sales/revenues, while 17 percent reported decreases. The regional activity index edged up 2 points to 9.5.

Full-Time Employment Remains Stable

The firms continued to report overall increases in full-time and part-time employment. The full-time employment index remained stable at 22.1. Over 55 percent of the firms reported steady full-time employment levels, while the share of firms reporting increases (31 percent) was higher than the share reporting decreases (9 percent). The part-time employment index rose 10 points to 23.5, and the wages and benefits indicator fell 7 points to 36.1. The average workweek index decreased 5 points to 12.5.

Firms Continue to Report Overall Price Increases

Price indicator readings suggest overall increases in prices for inputs and for the firms’ own goods and services, but both indicators ticked down. The prices paid index declined 3 points to 26.5 (see Chart 2). Although the majority of respondents (51 percent) reported stable input prices, 32 percent of the respondents reported increases, while only 6 percent reported decreases. Regarding prices for firms’ own goods and services, the prices received index edged down 2 points from August to 12.0 in September. While 18 percent of the firms reported increases in prices received, only 6 percent reported decreases. More than 63 percent of the firms reported no change in prices for their own goods and services.


Prices Paid and Prices Received Indexes

Firms Expect Growth to Continue

Both future activity indexes suggest that firms anticipate continued growth over the next six months. The diffusion index for future activity at the firm level moved up from a reading of 26.8 in August to 30.7 this month (see Chart 1). More than 45 percent of the firms expect an increase in activity at their firms over the next six months compared with 15 percent that expect decreases. Nearly 36 percent of the firms expect no change over the next six months. The future regional activity index strengthened 18 points to 17.3.

Summary

Responses to this month’s Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that nonmanufacturing activity expanded in the region. The indicators for firm-level general activity and sales/revenues both moderated, while the full-time employment and new orders indexes both held steady. Overall, the respondents continue to expect growth over the next six months at their own firms.

Summary of Returns (September 2019)

Summary of Returns

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September 2019 PDF

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Questions?

Questions about the Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey and its historical data can be addressed to Elif Sen. E-mail