"All of the survey's broadest current indicators were negative this month, indicating weaker conditions compared with April," when the indexes were mixed, the Fed said.
The business survey, taken midway through the month, found its broadest index, the diffusion index of manufacturing activity, fell from 1.3 in April to minus 5.2 in May. which indicates business activity is slowing down.
The component index for new orders dropped from minus 1 to minus 7.9. The shipments index fell from 9.1 to minus 8.5. The number of employees index stayed negative, falling from minus 6.8 to minus 8.7.
The index measuring the number of hours worked also dropped, sliding from minus 2.1 to minus 12.4.
In the month, 14 percent of respondents indicated their firms were adding employees, while 22 percent indicated their payrolls were shrinking.