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Economy in Brief

Philadelphia Fed Nonmanufacturing Survey Indicates Improvement
by Tom Moeller  October 20, 2015

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that its Index of Nonmanufacturing Sector Activity at the company level rose to 37.5, the highest level since June. Nevertheless, the reading remained below the year-ago level for the ninth month this year. These diffusion indexes are not seasonally adjusted.

Improved readings for new and unfilled orders, inventories, full-time permanent employees and capital expenditures on physical plant were behind the rise in the overall October index average. Also rising was the number of part-time employees, the length of the average workweek and prices received. To the downside were sales or revenue as well as capital expenditures on equipment & software.

The expectations reading for companies in the region deteriorated slightly m/m but remained well above the year-ago level. The expected regional activity reading also gained m/m but was down versus the year ago level.

The Philadelphia Fed figures are diffusion indexes which are calculated by subtracting the percent of respondents reporting poorer business conditions from those reporting improvement. Thus, they have a good correlation with growth in the series covered. The data is available in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia: Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey (Diffusion Index, NSA) Oct Sep Aug Oct'14 2014 2013 2012
General Activity - Company 37.5 26.8 7.7 44.1 39.1 30.0 29.9
  New Orders 30.0 22.0 10.3 35.3 28.0 20.2 20.2
  Sales or Revenue 17.5 34.1 5.1 38.2 30.4 27.2 19.4
  Number of Full-Time Permanent Employees 20.0 4.9 15.4 11.8 17.4 19.0 12.7
  Prices Paid 17.5 12.2 23.1 26.5 19.7 20.6 20.7
Expected General Activity - Company 85.0 85.4 87.2 79.4 74.5 75.3 73.6
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