The New York Federal Reserve Bank released its monthly Empire State Manufacturing Index this morning, and the strength of the reading surprised economists who had been expecting a more modest increase. The index rose to 13.5 in January from a revised reading of 8.2 in December. The consensus estimate had been for a rise to 10.5.
The biggest gain came from selling prices, which rose 20 points in January, to 23.1. New orders rose to 13.7, up 8 points, and the shipments index rose slightly to 21.7. The future general business conditions index rose 9 points, to 54.9, its highest reading since last January.
Even better economic news came on the employment front, where 51% of employers indicated that they expect to hire more workers in the next 6-12 months. About 80% of employers expected wages to grow by 5%, and the remaining 20% expect wages to stay about the same. About 37% of employers expect benefit increases of more than 5%.