The Empire State Manufacturing Survey is in for the month of July, and the numbers continue to go in the shitter. What is the ESMS? It’s a survey(PDF) sent out to a variety of manufacturers across the state by the NY Federal Reserve, posing questions about current conditions in terms of employment, orders taken, and also the sense of what the next six months will bring.
If that all seems terribly subjective and indistinct, well, that’s probably because it is. And if one person’s sense of the future tends to be a bit hazy, then the collective wizdom of several manufacturing business’ secretaries must be equally flawed. However, what we do get is a sense of the general mood, along with at least some vague notion of how business is going in terms of orders received and filled.
This year’s numbers continue the trend since early 2004, down, down, down. In fact, the only number going up is the price index, which should surprise no one. This month’s report does represent a slight up-tick in current conditions compared to last month, as the RBJ’s sunny headline dutifully reports, but in the body of the article they point out that the sentiment in terms of the coming six months is as low as it’s ever been since September 2001. That’s bad.
And what this all means is a consistent drag on manufacturing employment and wages for the forseeable future. Until we elect someone with the political will to renegotiate our supposed “free” trade agreements internationally, this trend will doubtless continue – to a greater or lesser degree – locally.