Regional manufacturing activity continued to grow in December, highlighted by the biggest jump in hiring in nearly two years, according to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The Fed said its monthly manufacturing index reached 8 in December, up from 7 in November and 4 in October. The index monitors production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time and raw material inventories.
“This month’s results are similar to what we’ve seen most of the year,” said Chad Wilkerson, a vice president and economist at the Kansas City Fed.
Wilkerson also said producers’ expectations for future activity remained at solid levels.
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The survey covers Kansas, the western part of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico.
The Fed noted that an index that measures hiring activity among manufacturers increased from 10 in November to 18 this month. Expectations for future employment growth also were positive, the survey said.
Several survey respondents reported feeling more optimistic about the economy.
“Looks like we will finish the year stronger than anticipated,” one manager said. “We hope it carries through to next year.”
However, there were concerns that falling oil prices will hurt the demand for some products.
“Our industrial markets are OK,” a manager said, “but demand from oil field customers is dropping rapidly.”