Georgia's manufacturers show optimism

Georgia’s manufacturers have turned bullish on the economy.

After four months of declines, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a barometer of the state’s manufacturing health released Wednesday by Kennesaw State University, jumped six points in November indicating that factories are revving up production.

Orders for manufactured goods rose a striking 11.3 percent. Manufacturers also plan to hire more workers, the survey shows.

“The numbers are moving in the right direction for a change,” said Don Sabbarese, director of the university's Econometric Center. But “it is not clear whether or not November’s improvement will continue.”

Nearly half of the purchasing managers, though, expect higher levels of production over the next three to six months.

The confidence expressed by Georgia’s manufacturers was echoed, largely, by the Federal Reserve’s so-called Beige Book, also released Wednesday. The report, which appears eight times each year, shows that “economic activity rose modestly in October through mid-November” across the Atlanta region.

Retailers notched higher sales and expect the holidays to be “generally positive,” according to the Beige Book. Businessmen and international visitors boosted tourism. Manufacturers reported more new orders and greater production and cautiously predicted that hiring will pick up too.

Home sales and construction remained in the doldrums, the report stated, and “credit conditions remained constrained.”

“Overall,” the regional report concluded, “most business owners suggested that the lack of robust sales growth was the major factor holding back their hiring plans and their demand for credit, although several also cited ongoing tax and regulatory policy uncertainty as additional constraining factors.”