Business Activity Grew Moderately
Tenth District services activity grew moderately in April and expectations for the next six months increased further (Chart 1 & Table 1). Price indexes in April were mixed. The monthly input prices index increased significantly, while the monthly selling prices index and both year-over-year prices indexes remained essentially flat. Looking forward, firms expect input price growth to ease slightly over the next six months, while they expect the pace of increases in selling prices to slow substantially.
The month-over-month services composite index was 7 in April, up from -4 in March and from 1 in February (Tables 1 & 2). The composite index is a weighted average of the revenue/sales, employment, and inventory indexes. The increase in revenue and sales was driven by growth in health services, tourism & hotels, and restaurant activity. In contrast, auto and retail activity declined in April. Month-over-month indexes were mixed. The general revenue/sales, employee hours worked, wages & benefits, and input price indexes increased, while the part-time/temporary employment, inventory, access to credit, capital expenditures, and selling price indexes decreased. The employment index stayed steady. The year-over-year composite index increased from -6 to -2 as the employment, employee hours worked, and capital expenditures indexes increased moderately. Expectations for future services activity grew further in April, with the composite index increasing from 2 to 14.
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This month contacts were asked special questions about job openings and financing. In April, 36% of firms reported no change in their number of job openings since the beginning of the year, while 8% reported a significant increase, 30% reported a slight increase, 13% reported a slight decrease, and 14% reported a significant decrease (Chart 2). District firms were also asked to what extent they are having difficulty obtaining financing for desired short-term uses—such as paying workers and acquiring inventories of material or supplies—and long-term uses—such as capital expenditures. A majority of the firms that sought financing reported no difficulty obtaining it for short- or long-term uses. A greater share of firms reported difficulty obtaining credit for long-term uses than short-term uses (Chart 3).
Selected Services Comments
“Over the past few years, we have seen our business steadily decline in job orders; although, we have seen a slight increase over the past few months. It is a challenge to find workers still as many are still searching for remote work.”
“Worker demand is down because of lack of multifamily business at this time. There is lots of multifamily activity, but we are in a temporary gap waiting for some projects to start. Commodity prices are down but most manufactured products continue to take price increases - although more modest than the past couple of years.”
“Expenses are up, grosses are down...bottom line is down. High interest rates are hurting both selling vehicle, and flooring vehicles.”
“The high interest rates have slowed our business and caused inventories to grow. We are still having parts supply shortages in some areas.”
“Credit is available, but documentation requirements have increased.
Excel SpreadsheetHistorical Monthly Data