The business survey, taken midway through the month, found the diffusion index of manufacturing activity dropped from 2 in March to 1.3, which indicates business is growing, albeit slowly.
The component index for new orders dropped into negative territory, falling from 0.5 to minus 1. The shipment index, however, showed improvement, climbing from 3.1 to 9.1.
The employment index went the other way, falling from 2.7 in March to minus 6.8 in April.
Most firms reported the size of their payrolls was steady, but 17 percent indicated their payrolls were shrinking, while 10 percent indicated theirs was growing.
Still, it was a month of mixed messages. The number of firms indicating business was growing, 22 percent, was slightly ahead of the 21 percent indicating business was contracting.