Weather takes toll on area factories

Posted: February 22, 2014

Severe winter weather took a toll on factories in the Philadelphia region in recent weeks, pushing the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing index downward for the first time in nine months.

Despite the weak numbers, many of the survey's indicators of factory executives' expectations for the future improved, the bank said.

The unexpected reversal from mid-January to mid-February "was mostly attributable to the winter storms that blanketed much of the region during the first few weeks of the month," the bank said in a statement.

The closely watched survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions fell from a reading of 9.4 in mid-January to minus 6.3 for the recent four-week period. Positive numbers point to economic growth, negative numbers to shrinkage.

General activity, new orders, and shipments were down, and though firms continued to add to their payrolls, average work hours fell, the regional Fed bank said.

The Philadelphia report ran counter to a private nationwide survey released Thursday by Markit Economics Ltd. that said manufacturing in the United States expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years in February.

The Philly Fed region covers eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and the state of Delaware.


rkanaley@phillynews.com

215-854-5114

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