Empire State Manufacturing Survey February 2010

The Empire State manufacturing survey for February is out. The headlines blare a 9 point increase in business conditions for New York Manufacturing, but the details point to something different.

First you get this nice positive graph:


Yet new orders and inventories are generally described in the first paragraph, you have to dig down further to find the numbers.

New orders index fell 12 points, it remained positive, at 8.8

Uh, new orders implies a slow down here. Then inventories:

The inventories index rose sharply, to 0.0, its highest reading in well over a year

Sudden increases in inventories implies they are not selling stuff.

Employment is also sad, only good news is a slight increase in hours.

The index for number of employees was 5.6, with 21 percent of respondents reporting increased staffing levels and 15 percent reporting reduced levels. The average workweek index advanced 3 points, to 8.3.

Now here is something just too strange. The survey claims that that 63% of firms plan to expand the workforce. Yet in reading the details we see a -1.6% drop in workers for 2010.

Gets weirder. Here is the explanation:

In the current survey, roughly 64 percent of respondents indicated that they expected their workforce to increase in the year ahead, while just 10 percent predicted declines in the number of full-time workers and 15 percent anticipated declines in their workforce overall. This finding contrasts with last year’s survey results, in which respondents expecting increases in the total workforce had outnumbered those expecting declines by just 45 percent to 40 percent. Consistent with the 2008 and 2009 survey findings, the 2010 results were generally more negative for the larger firms in the sample—those with 200 or more employees—than for smaller firms. As a group, respondents to the current survey anticipated a modest 1.6 percent decline in workforce size, on average, but when the larger firms were excluded from the sample, the result was a 5.4 percent increase.

What??? Are they trying to claim large firms do not matter and thus try to claim New York Manufacturing is going to hire more people? Also notice that part time is increasing. Part time is often used to deny full time benefits in companies.

Current Expected % Change
Full-time workers 225.8 222.2 -1.6
Part-time workers 5.2 5.3 2.7
Contract workers 12.3 11.9 -3.4
Temp workers 11.7 11.1 -4.5
Total workers 243.3 239.4 -1.6

Anybody else see a whole lot of hires in these survey numbers for 2010? I didn't think so.

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