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Industrial shipments in area grow


Manufacturing in the region covered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond grew in January, but employment remained stagnant, the bank reported yesterday.

The Fed's survey of 150 manufacturers in the region, which includes Maryland, continues a trend that has been holding steady for the last three months, said Robert F. Graboyes, a Fed spokesman.

The survey shows that the percentage of manufacturers experiencing an increase in January shipments outshined the number expecting a decrease by a margin of 35 to 23. The greatest number, 42 percent, reported no change.

Meanwhile, the bank reported that the percentage of companies reporting fewer employees exceeded those with more employees by 17 percent to 15 percent.

"In general, what that means is that people are expanding production via overtime rather than adding new employees," said Mr. Graboyes. The percentage of manufacturers reporting a longer workweek exceeded those reporting a shorter week by a 23-13 margin.

What the report indicates about Maryland's economy is questionable. The state is lumped into a region that includes such states as North Carolina and South Carolina, which have little in common with Maryland's economic profile. West Virginia and Virginia are the other states in the Richmond district, along with the District of Columbia.

Mr. Graboyes said the Federal Reserve districts were drawn during the 1910s and are not intended to group states with common economic characteristics.

By a 59-10 margin, manufacturers expect shipments to increase, but only 23 percent expect to add employees, compared with 20 percent who expect to trim their work force. Meanwhile, 28 percent expect longer workweeks, as opposed to only 9 percent who expect employees to work fewer hours.

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