Manufacturing activity in the region slowed at the start of the second quarter, according to a survey released Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The Kansas City Fed said its monthly index of regional factory business was 7 in April. The index was down from 10 in March, but it was up from 4 in February.
The survey covers manufacturers in a seven-state area that includes Kansas, the northern half of Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and part of New Mexico.
“Regional factory expansion was not quite as strong in April as in March, when better weather provided a boost,” said Chad Wilkerson, a vice president and economist at the Kansas City Fed.
But he noted that April’s number was one of the best in nearly two years “and firms were generally optimistic about future business.”
The manufacturing index monitors production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time and raw material inventory.
Several survey respondents said they are anticipating a pickup in business later this year.
“We are glad to finally see improvement in sales,” one manager said. “If sales for export would follow, we would be in much better position to spend on capital improvements.”
Others said finding enough skilled labor has been difficult.
“We have many available jobs for truck drivers, some production supervisory personnel and technical/electrical roles, (but) we are challenged finding good people with the right skill sets,” another manager said.