August Regional Business Activity Mixed

Date: August 22, 2016

Fed Data Shows New York Region Saw Less Business Activity, But Philadelphia Region Activity Rose

The general economic health of the US remains mixed following the recession, and new data from Federal Reserve banks further details the murky economic portrait across the US. According to the latest New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Empire State manufacturing survey, business activity in the region declined slightly in August, falling to a reading of -4.2 from July’s reading of 0.6. MarketWatch explained that the index “has been bouncing around zero all year, spending four months in negative territory which indicates deteriorating conditions.”

In a slightly different portrait of overall business health, the latest Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Manufacturing Business Outlook survey showed that business activity in August rose to 2.0, up from a reading of -2.9 in July. At the same time, the region’s employment index fell to -20.0 from a reading of -1.6 in July, the worst result since July 2009, and an indication of a sharp dropoff in hirings. Fox Business said activity in the region “picked up modestly” in August, “though customer orders remained constrained as many businesses continue to rein in spending amid rising economic and political anxiety.”

What This Means For Small Businesses

As the latest regional data indicate, small businesses in the New York and Philadelphia regions, like across the US, are dealing with a turbulent, uncertain business environment. Though activity in some categories may be up, others are on the decline, and it is difficult to get a true indication of a stable, robust economy. As NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in the latest Small Business Economic Trends report, “Uncertainty is high, expectations for better business conditions are low, and future business investments look weak. Our data indicates that there is little hope for a surge in the small business sector anytime soon.”

Additional Reading

The AP also covered the New York business activity report and Reuters also reported on the Philadelphia business activity report.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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