40 percent of Phila. manufacturers plan to hire

Posted: January 18, 2014

Four in 10 regional manufacturing companies plan to hire in 2014, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported in a closely watched survey released Thursday.

"It was a bit of a surprise to see a 41 percent expansion in employment," bank senior economic analyst Michael Trebing said Thursday, commenting on the report.

"That number overwhelmed the 10 percent [of companies] that expect to decrease" their payrolls, Trebing said.

Trebing said the Philadelphia regional manufacturing report is closely watched nationally because the city's manufacturing base is diverse, making it more of a proxy for the entire nation. The bank surveyed 75 businesses.

The chief factors restraining hiring, the companies surveyed said, are low projected sales growth and a desire to keep operating costs low.

Companies also said they could not find workers with the needed skills. Another major factor was uncertainty over the cost of health insurance, although that never ranked as the most important deterrent to hiring.

The Philadelphia report showed the eighth consecutive month of general positive activity in regional manufacturing.

However, the manufacturers' six-month forecast, though still positive, is less positive than it was.

Trebing said the "general activity" question was revealing because it asks manufacturers to make their assessments based on whatever factors each thinks is important in measuring growth.

The more standard measures also indicate growth, with the percentage of manufacturers expecting new orders, shipments, and payments to increase in the first six months of the year outstripping those who expect declines.

The same holds true with plans to expand hiring, the length of the workweek, and capital spending.


jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769

@JaneVonBergen

www.inquirer.com/jobbing

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