Unemployment Claims: Steady; Philly Fed Survey: Manufacturing Strengthens

Unemployment claims in the US held steady for the week ending April 13. Seasonally adjusted initial claims remained unchanged at 212,000, meeting expectations. The 4-week moving average also held steady at 214,500, indicating a stable trend in jobless claims. Unadjusted initial claims decreased by 6,756 to 208,509, slightly below the expected decrease of 6,369. The insured unemployment rate remained at 1.2%, reflecting a consistent level of unemployment insurance claims.

Philly Fed Manufacturing Outlook

Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region continued to expand in April, according to the latest Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The survey’s indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments all experienced positive growth, signaling a robust manufacturing sector. However, the employment index remained negative, suggesting ongoing challenges in the labor market.

Current Indicators Improve:
The diffusion index for current general activity rose by 12 points to 15.5 in April. Almost 38% of surveyed firms reported increases in general activity, while the index for new orders increased by 7 points. Current shipments also rose by 8 points.

Despite improvements in other indicators, the survey showed a continued decline in employment in the manufacturing sector. The employment index edged down by 1 point to -10.7 in April, marking its 12th negative reading in the past 14 months. Most firms reported no change in employment, while a significant share reported decreases. Additionally, the average workweek index fell further, indicating reduced hours for manufacturing workers.

Price Pressures Mount:
Price pressures persisted in April, with both the prices paid index and the prices received index suggesting overall price increases. The prices paid index jumped to its highest level since December 2023, indicating rising input costs for manufacturers. Moreover, firms continued to expect increases in wages and compensation costs, with a significant proportion planning adjustments to their 2024 budgets.

Future Indicators Remain Positive:
Looking ahead, future indicators remained positive but showed some decline from the previous month. While the future general activity index decreased slightly, it still indicates expectations for growth over the next six months. Similarly, the future new orders and shipments indexes declined but remained in positive territory. Firms also anticipate an increase in employment over the next six months, despite some uncertainty regarding future capital expenditures.