The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey headlines for October 2011 show the index improved and slightly out of the levels associated with past recessions.
Responses to the Business Outlook Survey this month suggest that regional manufacturing is showing signs of recovering, following several months of decline. The survey’s broad indicators for activity, shipments, and new orders recorded positive readings after two months in negative territory. Responding firms indicated that employment was slightly higher this month. The broadest indicator of future activity remained positive and showed marginal improvement over its reading last month.
Remember, surveys are supposed to be a peek at the future, but Econintersect continues to warn these are no more than interesting bar room talk. This is not data; rather it is opinion which leads hard data by a month or so, and often the hard data differs from the corresponding prior opinion.
Econintersect believes the important elements of this survey are new orders and unfilled orders. The number of respondents who thought new orders and unfilled orders were improving fell this month.
The levels of improving conditions in new orders and unfilled orders remain near the average levels seen since January 2010.
At this point, conditions are not worsening.
Surveys are NOT hard data. They are a quantification of opinion. Econintersect analysis indicates economic growth is continuing to slow. However, based on last year, this negative result might be a New Normal seasonal factor.