Is Manufacturing a Dark Spot for the Labor Market?

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Economists and market participants often use regional outlook reports produced by local Federal Reserve branches to inform their perception of national economic conditions. When the data align, observers can more confidently form expectations about future conditions — in manufacturing, for example, national indicators suggest (at best) modest growth, and several regional indicators confirm this outlook.

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On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released the June update to its Business Outlook Survey. The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from -5.2 in May to 12.5 in June, its highest reading since April 2011. The percentage of firms reporting increased activity rose from 22 to 34 on the month, with several other indicators rising from negative to positive territory.

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