You may not have noticed a slowdown in factory work lately, unless you know someone who works in a factory or you live in one of the handful of states that rely heavily on manufacturing jobs.
But a report Thursday on orders and shipments for so-called durable goods has added to the list of reasons that many economists, investors — and possibly Federal Reserve officials — are entertaining doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy.
The impact of any possible factory slowdown, though, depends a lot on where you live.
The report by the Commerce Department on durable goods caught most observers by surprise. Orders and shipments of manufactured goods — those designed to last for more than a few years — plunged in December after dropping more slowly in four of the past five months.
Even more troubling, the December decline hit most product categories — a possible sign that an ongoing slowdown in the global economy may be cutting into demand for U.S.-made products.