HOUSTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Thursday reported recession in regional manufacturing February in its monthly Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey.
The survey, which looks at firms in the Third Federal Reserve District that covers eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, suggested the region's manufacturing conditions weakened in February.
The index for current manufacturing activity in the region decreased from a reading of 17 in January to minus 4.1 this month, the index's first negative reading since May 2016.
Both the new orders and shipments indexes decreased in February. The current new orders index fell by nearly 24 points to minus 2.4, whereas the current shipments index decreased by 17 points to minus 5.3.
The current employment index improved from a reading of 9.6 in January to 14.5 this month. Nearly 24 percent of the surveyed firms reported increases in employment, with 9 percent of them reporting decreases.
The diffusion index for future general activity held virtually stable at 31.3 this month. Over 46 percent of the firms expected increases in activity over the next six months, while 15 percent expected declines.
The future employment index fell 11 points to 23.6, its lowest reading since November 2016. However, 31 percent of the firms expected to increase employment over the next six months, higher than the percentage of firms expecting to decrease employment, which is 7 percent.
In terms of the inflation rate for U.S. consumers over the next year, the firms' median forecast stood at 2.3 percent, a decrease from 3 percent in the previous quarter.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is one of the 12 regional banks of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Conducted each month since May 1968, its Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey looks at the direction of change in firms' overall business activity and in the various measures of activity at their plants.