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US Unemployment Holds Steady; Philadelphia Manufacturing Grows Despite Job Issues and Price Hikes

Unemployment Claims: Steady; Philly Fed Survey: Manufacturing Strengthens

In the US, unemployment claims for the week ending April 13 showed stability, with seasonally adjusted initial claims holding at 212,000, meeting expectations. The 4-week moving average also remained steady at 214,500, indicating a consistent trend in jobless claims. Unadjusted initial claims saw a slight decrease to 208,509, just below the anticipated drop. The insured unemployment rate stayed at 1.2%, indicating a sustained level of claims for unemployment insurance.

Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region expanded in April, as per the latest Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. Indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments all showed positive growth, suggesting a strong manufacturing sector. However, the employment index remained negative, indicating ongoing labor market challenges.

Current indicators saw improvement, with the diffusion index for current general activity rising by 12 points to 15.5 in April. Nearly 38% of surveyed firms reported increases in general activity, with the index for new orders also experiencing a 7-point increase. Despite these positive signs, the survey highlighted a continued decline in manufacturing employment, with most firms reporting no change or decrease in employment.

US Unemployment Holds Steady; Philadelphia Manufacturing Grows Despite Job Issues and Price Hikes

US Unemployment Holds Steady; Philadelphia Manufacturing Grows Despite Job Issues and Price Hikes (Credits: Reuters)

Price pressures continued to mount in April, with both the prices paid index and the prices received index indicating overall price increases. The prices paid index reached its highest level since December 2023, signaling rising input costs for manufacturers. Additionally, firms anticipated increases in wages and compensation costs, with many planning adjustments to their 2024 budgets.

Looking ahead, future indicators remained positive but showed some decline compared to the previous month. While the future general activity index decreased slightly, it still indicated expectations for growth over the next six months. Similarly, future new orders and shipments indexes declined but remained in positive territory. Despite some uncertainty regarding future capital expenditures, firms anticipated an increase in employment over the next six months.

While the manufacturing sector in the Philadelphia region showed strength in April, challenges persisted in terms of employment and price pressures. Despite positive future expectations, uncertainties remained, particularly regarding capital expenditures.

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