PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said Thursday that manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region was essentially flat in September.
In a survey conducted in the first two weeks of the month, the Philadelphia Fed said the diffusion index for the region was negative for the second consecutive month at minus 0.7, which shows a slower contraction than a month ago, when the index read minus 7.7.
Employment was "near steady" in the latest survey, but employers reported lower average work hours for existing employees, the Fed said.
In the month, 18 percent of the businesses surveyed reported increased employment at their firms, while 16 percent reported decreased employment.
Thirty percent reported fewer hours were worked in September compared to August, however, while 8 percent indicated employees were working more hours.
On balance, "Despite the evident weakness over the past two months, firms expect growth in their manufacturing ... over the next six months," the Fed said.
However, the Fed said, confidence had slipped in the third quarter and "as a group" mid-Atlantic businesses expected growth to slow in the fourth quarter.