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Economy in Brief

Texas Factory Sector Index Weakens
by Tom Moeller  March 26, 2018

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas indicated in its Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey that the March General Business Activity Index declined to 21.4, its lowest level since November. Production, new orders, shipments and employment each weakened. The workweek series ticked higher m/m and remained up sharply from the 2016 low.

Finished goods prices received declined to the lowest level in three months. The raw materials prices measure, however, improved to the strongest point since 2011. The cost of labor declined as wages & benefits eased to the lowest level in four months.

The index of expected business conditions in six months declined to the lowest level since August. Most of the sub-series fell m/m. The future employment index held steady but remained near the record high as did the measure of expected wages & benefits.

Each index is calculated by subtracting the percentage reporting a decrease from the percentage reporting an increase. When all firms report that activity has increased, an index will register 100. An index will register -100 when all firms report a decrease. An index will be zero when the number of firms reporting an increase or decrease is equal. Items may not add up to 100% because of rounding. Data for the Texas Manufacturing Outlook can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey (SA, % Balance) Mar Feb Jan Mar'17 2017 2016 2015
Current General Business Activity Index 21.4 37.2 33.4 16.9 20.4 -8.8 -12.5
   Production 12.7 27.9 16.8 18.6 19.5 2.4 -1.0
   Growth Rate of New Orders 3.8 15.3 15.5 3.2 10.0 -7.3 -11.8
   Number of Employees 10.8 19.1 15.2 8.4 10.9 -4.9 -0.4
   Wages & Benefits 22.9 32.2 23.3 19.7 21.7 17.6 16.5
   Prices Received for Finished Goods 18.5 22.5 22.3 7.5 12.3 -1.6 -8.5
General Business Activity Index Expected in Six Months 32.0 40.6 44.5 36.3 35.1 8.9 4.1
   Production 45.7 46.0 51.6 36.3 46.6 35.8 31.1
   Growth Rate of New Orders 34.1 37.5 40.4 38.3 37.8 24.3 20.7
   Number of Employees 34.3 34.0 44.5 28.4 35.2 16.7 14.7
   Wages & Benefits 48.9 49.7 56.9 45.0 43.6 34.8 33.2
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