12/15/2016 05:00 EST | Updated 12/16/2017 00:12 EST

Manufacturing growing at solid pace in New York, hiring lags

WASHINGTON — Manufacturers in New York state expanded more quickly this month than in November, driven by a big jump in new orders.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Thursday that its Empire State index rose to a reading of 9 in December, up from 1.5 in the previous month. Anything above zero signals that factories are doing more business.

The healthy jump adds to other evidence that U.S. manufacturing is rebounding after a rough 18 months. Businesses have been clearing out their stockpiles of unsold goods and spending less on machinery and equipment, which have lowered factory output. Yet nationwide surveys in the past several months suggest manufacturing is growing again, if slowly.

Still, a gauge of employment in the Empire State report fell to minus 12.2, from minus 10.9, which means factories cut jobs last month.

Those figures are an example of how automated, high-tech factories are frequently able to boost output without having to add more workers.

Nationwide, manufacturers expanded for the third straight month in November, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group.

That report also showed rising new orders, as well as more production. Hiring grew, but not as quickly as the other measures.