The New York Fed reported on Monday slowing growth within the manufacturing sector in March, with overall sentiments remaining positive and employment improved despite difficulty finding highly skilled labor.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's general business conditions index, the broadest measure of business sentiment in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, fell 14 points but remained positive at 6.6, after increasing slightly in February to 20.2.
The survey's new orders component remained relatively flat, falling a fraction of a point but remaining positive at 6.5 points. The survey's most forward-looking index has been sliding downward from highs in the beginning of 2012. Shipments also fell to 6.4 from 18.2.
The survey did showcase a few positives, as prices paid decreased while prices received increased.
Manufacturing has done reasonably well as of late, Jeremy Lawson, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, told Bloomberg before the survey's release. We've seen solid but not spectacular growth, and we expect that continue.
The number of employees index also continued a steady climb, up to 19.3 from 13.6 the previous month, its highest mark in nearly a year. Firms also expect wages to rise 2.3 percent in the next year.
The employment gains came despite a supplementary survey indicating potential hires with computer and basic math skills do not meet demand, a problem which has persisted since before the recession.
Firms remained cautiously optimistic for the coming half year, as predictions for the next six months fell in the general business conditions index to 43.1 points, but jumped in the new orders and shipments indexes to 45.8 points and 44.6 point respectively.