Chicago business activity unexpectedly contracted at a slightly faster rate in the month of October, according to a report released by MNI Indicators on Tuesday.
MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer edged down to 44.0 in October from 44.1 in September, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 45.0.
The unexpected dip by the business barometer came as the production index tumbled to 46.5 in October from 51.1 in September, returning to contraction territory after two months of growth.
Meanwhile, the new orders jumped 4.2 points in October after plunging by 17.6 points in September, driven largely by an increase in the proportion of respondents reporting an unchanged pipeline.
The employment index also shot up to 50.2 in October from 44.5 in September, indicating the first month of job growth since April 2023.
MNI Indicators said the surge by the employment index was driven by increases in employment by some respondents to address holiday-season expectations and falls for those affected by labor unrest.
The report also said the prices paid index crept up to 60.1 in October from 59.5 in September but remains below levels seen for the majority of the last three calendar years.