KC Fed regional manufacturing flat

Tenth District manufacturing was flat this month as expectations for future activity remain modest, according to February’s Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City manufacturing survey. 

The month-over-month composite index — an average of those for production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time and raw materials — was 0 in February, up from -1 in January and -4 in December. Year-over-year factory indexes increased one point to a composite index of 5. According to the report, factory activity slowed this month due to less activity at plastics, chemical and food manufacturing plants.

 The future composite index fell two points, to one, in February, with volume of new orders and capital expenditures indexes moving into negative territory. Monthly and annual price indexes continued to increase, according to the Fed, along with expectations for future raw material and finished goods prices. 

 “Month-over-month indexes remained mostly negative in February,” wrote Senior Vice President Chad Wilkerson and Senior Survey Analyst Jannety Mosley. “Indexes for new orders, number of employees, exports and delivery time increased from January’s readings, while volume of shipments, order backlog, employment, materials and finished goods indexes decreased slightly.” 

Forty-four percent of firms said their top priority in hiring over the next six months is for entry-level workers, while 40 percent expect to focus on mid-level workers.  Wilkerson noted that firms expect “steady growth in the average number of employees” this year.