This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions at 17.4 was a decrease of 6.9 from the previous month's 24.3. The forecast was for a reading of 23.

The Empire State Manufacturing Index rates the relative level of general business conditions in New York state. A level above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions. The reading is compiled from a survey of about 200 manufacturers in New York state.

Here is the opening paragraph from the report.

Business activity continued to expand in New York State, though at a slower pace than last month, according to firms responding to the June 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell seven points to 17.4. New orders and shipments increased moderately, and there was a rise in unfilled orders. Delivery times lengthened at a record-setting pace, and inventories edged lower. Employment levels and the average workweek continued to grow modestly, and both input prices and selling prices continued to rise sharply. Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, with the index for future employment reaching a record high. [full report]

Here is a chart of the current conditions and its 3-month moving average, which helps clarify the trend for this extremely volatile indicator:

Empire State Manufacturing

Click this link to access a PDF set of charts of the individual components over the past 12 months.

Since this survey only goes back to July of 2001, we only have two complete business cycles with which to evaluate its usefulness as an indicator for the broader economy. Following the Great Recession, the index has slipped into contraction multiple times, as the general trend slowed. We saw a gradual decline in 2015 that picked up in 2016, with a giant dip in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Here is an overlay of the current and future conditions (a six-month outlook).