by Robert Hughes
The American Institute for Economic Research
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows current general business conditions were less favorable in August with the index posting a 3.7 percent reading versus 17.2 in July, a drop of 13.5 points (see top chart). New orders, shipments, and unfilled orders had similar declines, falling to -1.7, 6.7, and -14.0, respectively.
The current labor indexes, critically important to a recovery, had opposite changes in August. The number of employees index gained 2.0 points to 2.4 while the average workweek index fell 4.2 points to -6.8. Both are generally weak.
Among the forward-looking questions (which give some indications about business confidence), expectations six months ahead were lower across the board.