Factory activity in New York slowed in early August for the second straight month, and manufacturers in the state cut jobs.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday that its Empire State manufacturing index dropped to a reading of minus 4.2, from 0.6 in July. Any reading above zero points to expansion.
Even so, new orders ticked up slightly and a measure of shipments rose to 9 from 0.7 in the previous month. Those figures suggest the broader index could pick up a bit in the coming months.
U.S. manufacturing has struggled for the past year and a half with a stronger dollar and weak overseas economies that have cut into their exports. Ongoing automation has also made it possible for manufacturers to produce more with fewer workers. Nationwide, factories have shed 30,000 jobs in the past year.
In New York, a measure of employment improved slightly, rising to minus 1 from minus 4.4 in July. The negative reading indicates factories are still laying off workers, though at a slower pace than the previous month.
Nationwide, manufacturing output is rising modestly by some measures, but its expansion remains tepid. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said earlier this month that its manufacturing index registered 52.6 in July, down slightly from June but still above 50, which points to expansion.
Yet its measure of employment contracted and has fallen in seven of the past eight months.