New York factory growth at slowest pace in 6 mos.

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — New York manufacturers are growing at the slowest pace in six months as new orders shrink and shipments barely rise.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Wednesday that its Empire State Manufacturing index dropped to 6.2 in October, down sharply from a five-year high of 27.5 in September. Any figure above zero indicates growth. October's reading is the lowest since April.

There were some positive signs in the report. Factories are still adding workers: A measure of hiring rose seven points to 10.2. And a gauge of prices paid by manufacturers for raw materials fell, a sign that inflation remains tame. Prices that manufacturers are receiving for their goods also declined, evidence that they are passing on their savings.

Despite the slowdown in October, New York's manufacturers have a mostly optimistic outlook. A measure of expected business conditions in six months fell but remained healthy at 41.7, down from 46.7.

The figures suggest manufacturers "have a high degree of optimism about future business conditions," the report said.

Other economic data released Wednesday also pointed to a sluggish economy. Retail sales fell in September as recent job gains have yet to encourage Americans to ramp up their spending. Employers are adding jobs at a healthy clip, but wages dipped last month and have barely kept up with inflation in the past year.

The New York Fed's Empire State survey provides an early look at U.S. manufacturing each month. The New York Fed surveys 200 businesses in the state and typically receives responses from 100.

U.S. manufacturing growth slowed in September, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, but still expanded at a healthy pace. The ISM, a trade group of purchasing managers, said that new orders and hiring grew more slowly than the previous month.