October 2022 Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey

Note: Survey responses were collected from October 10 to October 20.

Nonmanufacturing activity in the region continued to expand overall, according to the firms responding to the October Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The survey’s current indicator for general activity at the firm level decreased but remained positive, and the index for sales/revenues increased. However, the index for new orders remained negative. The survey’s indexes for prices paid and prices received both increased this month. Overall, the respondents expect growth over the next six months at their own firms, but optimism was less widespread this month.

Current Indicators Are Mixed

The diffusion index for current general activity at the firm level fell 8 points to 11.2 in October, after a 20 point increase last month (see Chart 1). More than 40 percent of the firms reported increases (down from 43 percent last month), while 29 percent reported decreases (up from 23 percent). The sales/revenues index rose for the second consecutive month, up 3 points to 20.8 in October. Nearly 49 percent of the firms reported increases in sales/revenues, while 28 percent reported decreases. The new orders index declined 4 points this month to -5.5, its third consecutive negative reading. More than 26 percent of the firms reported increases in new orders, less than the 32 percent that reported decreases. The regional activity index declined 17 points to -14.9 this month.

Current and Future General Activity Indexes for Firms

Employment Indicators Remain Positive

The firms reported overall increases in full- and part-time employment this month. The full-time employment index was positive at 13.3 in October, up from 12.6 last month. The share of firms reporting increases in full-time employment (27 percent) exceeded the share reporting decreases (14 percent); most firms (58 percent) reported no change. The part-time employment index edged up from 1.0 to 1.6 this month. Most firms reported steady part-time employment (59 percent), while 15 percent of the firms reported increases and 14 percent reported decreases. The average workweek index rose 16 points to 30.2.

Firms Continue to Report Overall Price Increases

Price indicator readings suggest widespread increases in prices for inputs and prices for the firms’ own goods and services. The prices paid index increased 3 points to 74.2 in October (see Chart 2). Almost 78 percent of the firms reported increases in prices paid, 13 percent reported steady input prices, and only 3 percent reported decreases. Regarding prices for the firms’ own goods and services, the prices received index edged up 1 point to 33.1. The share of firms reporting increases in prices received (41 percent) outweighed the share reporting decreases (8 percent). Over 40 percent of the firms reported no change in prices received.

Prices Paid and Prices Received Indexes

Firms Anticipate Higher Capital Expenditures Next Year

For this month’s special question, nonmanufacturers were asked about their plans for different categories of capital spending for the upcoming year. On balance, a larger share of firms expects an increase in capital expenditures in 2023 than a decrease. More than 32 percent of the respondents expect to increase total capital spending, while 23 percent expect lower capital expenditure spending. Most respondents (almost 45 percent) expect the same level of capital expenditure over the next year. Overall, the firms expect higher capital spending in the following categories: software, energy-saving investments, computer and related hardware, and structure.

Future Indicators Weaken

The future activity indexes suggest firms expect growth at their own companies over the next six months, but optimism was less widespread compared with last month. The diffusion index for future activity at the firm level declined from a reading of 24.5 in September to 5.2 this month (see Chart 1). Nearly 37 percent of the respondents expect an increase in activity at their firms over the next six months (down from 49 percent), compared with 32 percent that expect decreases (up from 25 percent) and 30 percent that expect no change (up from 23 percent). However, the future regional activity index fell 31 points to -29.4.


Responses to this month’s Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest continued expansion in nonmanufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for firm-level general activity decreased but remained positive, the sales/revenues index increased, but the new orders index remained negative. Both the prices paid and prices received indexes increased this month. The future firm-level activity index suggests less widespread optimism for growth over the next six months.

Special Question (October 2022)

Comparing 2023 with 2022, do you expect capital expenditures to be higher, the same, or lower for each of the following categories?
(% of reporters)
(% of reporters)
(% of reporters)
Software 34.5 50.9 14.5 20.0
Noncomputer equipment 21.8 56.4 21.8 0.0
Energy-saving investments 30.0 48.0 22.0 8.0
Computer and related hardware 34.5 49.1 16.4 18.2
Structure 26.5 55.1 18.4 8.2
Other 12.0 64.0 24.0 -12.0
Total capital spending 32.1 44.6 23.2 8.9

Summary of Returns (October 2022)

Summary of Returns

Return to the main page for the Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey.