It's still ugly in Texas

Manufacturing activity in Texas remained in contraction this month, as the headline index from the Dallas Federal Reserve printed at -31.8.

Economists had estimated that the reading improved to -30 from -34.6 in January. The index was negative throughout 2015.

The company-outlook index remained negative for a third straight month, though it improved a little.

But the employment index fell 7 points to -11.1, the lowest level since November 2009. A greater percentage of firms reported net layoffs (more layoffs versus hires) than those who reported net hiring.

Last month, the reading dropped to a six-year low, as cheaper oil continued to hurt businesses with exposure to the sector. All of the major sub-indexes worsened.

A survey respondent in chemical manufacturing said, “Don’t know if it is the weather, uncertainty created by the presidential election, or just a slowdown in the world economy, but things are definitely slowing down.”

“Wages are going up, the cost of labour is going up and qualified people willing to work are hard to find,” said another in fabricated metal product manufacturing.

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