Manufacturing growth slows, but factory hiring continues

Apr 16, 2012

The recent growth in New York's manufacturing sector has slowed, but economists say it's not all bad news.

"I wouldn't make too much out of just one month. It still is indicating growth," says Richard Deitz, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

On Monday, the New York Fed released the April edition of its Empire State Manufacturing Survey [PDF].

After four months of steady growth, the Fed's "business conditions index" saw a 14-point drop. Still, the overall outlook remains positive. 

Deitz says manufacturing employment continued to increase, though unevenly in different parts of the state.

"It has not been as positive for Syracuse," Deitz says. "But manufacturing employment in Buffalo has been growing for the past few months, and it's actually been growing at a pace faster than the U.S."

That's a sign of more positive survey results to come, says Randy Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York.

"Employment tends to be a lagging indicator," Wolken says. "This is verifying that growth has started."

With the U.S. economy still growing at a slow clip, Syracuse University economics professor Michael Wasylenko says American consumers alone won't be able to prop up domestic manufacturing.

"We're going to have to look to exports or government contracts," he says.

New York's manufacturing sector mirrors national trends, according to Wasylenko.

The Fed's monthly survey polls about 100 manufacturing executives from across New York State.