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NY metro, upstate manufacturers and service sectors upbeat

Job seeker John Keenan of Oceanside talks with

Job seeker John Keenan of Oceanside talks with U.S. Post Office recruiter Terry Delia while exploring his options during Job Fair 2014 at the Clarion Hotel in Ronkonkoma. (Jan. 14, 2014) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

About four in 10 manufacturers and service businesses in the metropolitan region and upstate New York expect to add employees this year, a big increase from their 2013 hiring forecast, officials said Thursday.

The prediction comes from two surveys conducted earlier this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

A poll of about 100 service companies, such as retailers and technology firms, found 40 percent expected to boost their payrolls this year, up from 28 percent in 2013. A separate survey of about 100 factories across the state showed 35 percent plan to hire workers in 2014, up from 27 percent last year.

Fewer employers said they planned to eliminate jobs.

Ten percent of manufacturers said they would cut their payrolls this year, down from 18.5 percent last year. Nineteen percent of service businesses plan to shrink their workforces, down slightly from 2013's 21 percent.

The factory poll included only manufacturers in New York State. The service-sector poll included companies in the state, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut; Long Island businesses took part in both studies.

Officials said Thursday the monthly poll of service businesses had been conducted since 2004 but was only now being released publicly because Fed economists feel comfortable with the data's veracity. The poll of manufacturers has been released for years.

Besides a hiring forecast, executives at service companies were asked about the state of the economy and their sales now and in the next six months.

The results point "to continued modest [economic] growth in service-sector activity for the region, coupled with increasingly strong optimism about future conditions," Fed economists Jason Bram and Richard Deitz said in a blog post.

The business activity index, which measures current sales, was 6.2 points this month, a decrease of 2 points from December. The index has been positive since April, meaning the number of service companies saying their sales had increased in the past month was higher than those with a decline.

The business climate index, an indicator of current attitudes about the economy, was negative 8 points. That means the number of executives saying the economy was worse than usual was greater than those who thought it was doing better.

The negative index reading, Fed economists said, was still the best since August 2007 when the metropolitan region was gripped by recession.

Service-sector executives were upbeat about the future. The business climate index for the next six months was 37 points, the highest since April 2010.

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