Business Leaders Survey Indicates Business Activity Increases While Optimism Declines

Industry Updates  »  Business Leaders Survey Indicates Business Activity Increases While Optimism Declines

Activity in the region’s service sector expanded modestly, according to firms responding to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s September 2017 Business Leaders Survey. The survey’s headline business activity index edged down two points but, at 9.4, indicated continuing growth.

The business climate index remained negative at -5.3, a sign that firms, on balance, continued to regard the business climate as worse than normal. The employment index rose three points to 10.9, pointing to an increase in employment levels, and the wages index was little changed at 34.9, suggesting that wages grew at about the same pace as in August.

Both input prices and selling prices increased at a faster pace than last month, and capital spending increased modestly. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms were less optimistic about future conditions than they were last month, with the index for future business climate falling to a level near zero.

Activity Continues To Expand, Though Business Climate Remains Unfavorable

Business activity in the region’s service sector continued to expand in September. The headline business activity index moved down two points, but remained firmly in positive territory at 9.4. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 26 percent said that conditions had worsened. The business climate index was little changed at -5.3, suggesting that, on balance, firms continued to view the business climate as worse than normal.

Employment Increases Modestly

The employment index advanced three points to 10.9, pointing to continued modest growth in employment levels. The wages index, little changed at 34.9, indicated that wages increased at about the same pace as in recent months. Both price indexes moved higher, a sign that prices increased at a faster pace than last month: the prices paid index rose six points to 42.2, and the prices received index climbed five points to 19.0. The capital spending index fell four points to 6.8.

Optimism Wanes

Optimism about the six-month outlook was less widespread than in recent months. The index for future business activity fell five points to 25.9, its lowest level in several months, and the index for future business climate slipped fourteen points to 1.3. At 23.3, the index for future employment suggested that respondents expected employment to increase in the months ahead. The index for planned capital spending was unchanged at 20.5.

The full report can be accessed here:
https://www.newyorkfed.org/survey/business_leaders/bls_overview.html#tabs-1

The Business Leaders Survey is a monthly survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that asks companies across its District – which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut – about recent and expected trends in key business indicators. This survey is designed to parallel the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, though it covers a wider geography and the questions are slightly different. Participants from the service sector respond to a questionnaire and report on a variety of indicators, both in terms of recent and expected changes. While January 2014 is the first published report, survey responses date back to September of 2004 and all historical data are available on our website.

The survey is sent on the first business day of each month to the same pool of about 150 business executives, usually the president or CEO, in the region’s service sector. In a typical month, about 100 responses are received by around the tenth of the month when the survey closes.


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