Pandemic Lockdown Distortions: Manufacturing Pulls Back While Housing Gains

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.

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