September 2022 Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey

Note: Survey responses were collected from September 6 to September 15.

Nonmanufacturing activity in the region expanded this month, according to the firms responding to the September Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The indexes for general activity at the firm level, sales/revenues, and new orders increased this month, with the former two returning to positive territory. The index for full-time employment decreased but remained positive. The prices paid and prices received indexes indicate more widespread increases in prices. The respondents continued to anticipate growth over the next six months.

Current and Future General Activity Indexes for Firms

Current Indexes Improve

The diffusion index for current general activity at the firm level rebounded from a reading of -0.1 in August to 19.5 this month (see Chart 1). Almost 43 percent of the firms reported increases in activity (up from 29 percent last month), and 23 percent reported decreases (down from 29 percent). The new orders index increased 5 points but remained negative at -1.1 this month. The share of firms reporting decreases (25 percent) narrowly exceeded the share of firms reporting increases (24 percent). The sales/revenues index also improved this month, rising 20 points to 18.2, its first increase since June. More than 47 percent of the responding firms reported increases in sales/revenues, while 29 percent reported decreases. The regional activity index increased 6 points to 2.5.

Employment Indicators Remain Positive but Low

The firms reported overall increases in full- and part-time employment this month. The full-time employment index declined 5 points to a reading of 12.6 in September, slightly below its long-run nonrecession average. More than 59 percent of the firms reported steady full-time employment levels. The share of firms reporting increases (23 percent) was higher than the share reporting decreases (10 percent). The part-time employment index was little changed at 1.0.

Firms Continue to Report Overall Price Increases

The prices paid and prices received indexes increased this month. The prices paid index increased 11 points to 71.0, its highest reading since June (see Chart 2). Almost 74 percent of the respondents reported higher input prices, 17 percent reported no change, and 3 percent reported decreases. Regarding prices for the firms’ own goods and services, the prices received index increased from 17.8 to 32.0. The share of firms reporting increases in prices received (39 percent) exceeded the share reporting decreases (7 percent). Most firms (45 percent) reported no change in prices for their own goods and services.

Prices Paid and Prices Received Index

Firms Report Higher Sales/Revenues and Constraints

In this month’s special questions, the firms were asked to estimate their total sales/revenues growth for the third quarter ending this month compared with the second quarter of 2022. The share of firms reporting expected increases in third-quarter sales/revenues (60 percent) was greater than the share reporting decreases (24 percent). The firms were also asked about factors constraining business operations in the current quarter. Most firms indicated labor supply (83 percent), supply chains (76 percent), and energy markets (65 percent) as constraints to some degree. Looking ahead over the next three months, 48 percent and 54 percent of the firms expect labor supply impacts and supply chain impacts to stay the same, respectively, while 43 percent of the firms expect financial markets to worsen.

Firms Continue to Anticipate Growth

The future activity indexes suggest firms expect growth at their own companies and in the region over the next six months. The diffusion index for future activity at the firm level increased from a reading of 16.7 in August to 24.5 this month (see Chart 1). Over 49 percent of the firms expect an increase in activity at their firms over the next six months, compared with 25 percent that expect decreases and 23 percent that expect no change. The future regional activity index remained positive but edged down 1 point to 2.0.


Responses to this month’s Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest expansion in nonmanufacturing activity in the region. The indicators for firm-level general activity and sales/revenues rose notably, while the full-time employment index declined but continued to indicate overall increases. Both price indexes increased this month and remained elevated. The responding firms continue to expect growth over the next six months overall.

Special Questions (September 2022)

1. How will your firm’s total sales/revenues for the third quarter of 2022 compare with that of the second quarter of 2022?
An increase of: % of firms Subtotals 
10% or more 17.3 % of firms reporting an increase: 60.4
5-10%  15.5
0-5%  27.6
No change 15.5
A decline of:
0-5%  10.3 % of firms reporting a decrease: 24.0
5-10%  5.2
10% or more 8.5
2. In the current quarter, to what degree have the following factors acted as constraints on business operations?
  Not at all
COVID-19 mitigation measures 57.1 36.5 6.3 0.0
Energy markets 34.9 33.3 14.3 17.5
Financial capital 60.3 23.8 12.7 3.2
Labor supply 17.2 28.1 26.6 28.1
Supply chains 24.2 36.4 16.7 22.7
Other factors 60.0 20.0 13.3 6.7
3. Over the next three months, how do you expect the impacts of the following factors as constraints on business operations to change?
Stay the same
COVID-19 mitigation measures 11.9 67.8 20.3
Energy markets 40.0 36.7 23.3
Financial capital 43.1 55.2 1.7
Labor supply 33.9 48.4 17.7
Supply chains 17.5 54.0 28.6
Other factors 12.0 84.0 4.0

Summary of Returns (September 2022)

Summary of Returns

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