New orders up in Georgia factories, but overall picture very weak

However, the recovery here remains even more sluggish than manufacturing nationally – and those numbers are not robust.

Still, more than one in 10 respondents in Georgia said in January that business had picked up from December, according to the monthly survey by Kennesaw State University Econometric Center.

KSU’s index for overall production was better too, ticking up 0.8 of a point from the month before to 44.7. That sub-50 level implies a continued shrinkage of the sector; it is also far below the current national level of 66.

“This doesn't speak well for manufacturing’s rebound in Georgia,” said Don Sabbarese, director of the center.

With overall production anemic, the picture on jobs worsened slightly in January. About 5 percent fewer companies reported increased payrolls than in December.

Manufacturing has been shedding jobs steadily for a decade, but it still accounts for about 10 percent of Georgia's workforce. Those jobs are pegged to production: If demand continues to rise, even modestly, it would likely mean more employment.

So if there is hope, it is in the increase of new orders in January after two consecutive months when they dropped, Sabbarese said.

“This is the most important improvement in January.”

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