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Manufacturing expanding regionally, declines locally

By - Last modified: March 16, 2012 at 11:49 AM

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The manufacturing sector is sending some mixed messages as the industry is showing signs of growth in a three-state region, but has declined in Central Pennsylvania’s metropolitan areas, according to employment stats and economic surveys released today.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s monthly Business Outlook Survey showed signs that manufacturing activity and employment were increasing in Delaware, southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, including the midstate.

Its index of manufacturing activity was up 2.5 points from February, according to the survey. New orders increased 8 points, but shipments declined 12 points.

Likewise, 22 percent of manufacturers are reporting employment increases, up from 15 percent in February, according to the survey.

The most recent employment figures from January for the Harrisburg-Carlisle, Lancaster, Lebanon and York-Hanover metro statistical areas show a slightly different situation where manufacturing jobs have declined, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Here are the manufacturing employments by statistical area:

Harrisburg-Carlisle

Manufacturing employment: 19,400

Change from Dec. 2011: -600

Change from Jan. 2011: -200

Lancaster

Manufacturing employment: 35,000

Change from Dec. 2011: 100

Change from Jan. 2011: -200

Lebanon

Manufacturing employment: 8,900

Change from Dec. 2011: -100

Change from Jan. 2011: 100

York-Hanover

Manufacturing employment: 31,900

Change from Dec. 2011: 100

Change from Jan. 2011: -100

Totals

Manufacturing employment: 95,200

Change from Dec. 2011: -500

Change from Jan. 2011: -400

Statewide, manufacturing employment in Pennsylvania was 568,100, an increase of about 1.2 percent since last year, according to the department. Unemployment dropped to 6.8 percent.

Other factors not measured, such as county-based gross product, might paint a more complete picture, said Michael Smeltzer, executive director of the York-based Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania. Otherwise, the local and regional statistics illustrate slow growth or slight plateau, he said.

“I think they’re both right,” Smeltzer said. “While (manufacturing’s) sales and production are strong, (its) weak back orders are making companies hesitant to hire.”

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jimr@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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