From the Philadelphia Fed’s description of its most recent Business Outlook Survey:
The survey’s broad indicators for activity, shipments, and new orders all declined sharply from last month. Firms indicated that employment and average work hours are lower this month….The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from a slightly positive reading of 3.2 in July to -30.7 in August. The index is now at its lowest level since March 2009.
Via Karl Smith, who comments: “There is just no good way to look at this.” We’re nearly in the same territory we were in during the worst part of the Great Recession.