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Federal Reserve Beige Book Released, Good Employment News

Today the Fed released their latest Beige Book. Last time I did one of these posts I was asked what the Beige Book is. My response was the latest report on local and national economic activity.

   

For a more academic definition, try this:

The Beige Book is released two weeks prior to each FOMC meeting eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its district through reports from bank and branch directors and interviews with key businessmen, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by district and sector.

   

From the 9th District-Minneapolis Summary:

The Ninth District economy grew at a solid pace since the last report. Increases in activity were noted in consumer spending, manufacturing, tourism, mining, agriculture, construction, and commercial real estate. Meanwhile, residential real estate softened. Overall employment levels and wages increased modestly. Significant price increases were noted in gasoline and some construction materials.

   

On Employment, Wages and Prices:

Overall employment levels increased modestly since the last report. According to a survey of Minneapolis-St. Paul companies by a temporary staffing agency, 29 percent of respondents expect to increase staffing levels during the second quarter, while 9 percent expect decreases. Montana bank directors reported tight labor market conditions in many areas. March initial claims for unemployment insurance were flat from a year ago in Minnesota.

   

From the National Summary:

Reports from all twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic activity continued to expand in March and the first half of April. Three Districts--Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco--characterize growth as "solid," while a number of others describe the rate of economic activity as "modest," "moderate," or "steady." Richmond notes a quicker pace of growth, and Dallas indicates that activity continued to strengthen. By contrast, New York says the rate of growth may have slipped a bit since the last report.

   

On Prices and Wages:

District reports from Boston, New York, Richmond, Kansas City, and Dallas say that labor markets are tightening, especially for skilled positions. Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Atlanta indicate that labor markets remain tight in at least some parts of their Districts. Contacts in Atlanta, Richmond, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Dallas state that truck drivers are in short supply. Wages continue to move up, but only a few Districts--New York, Dallas, and Kansas City--mention a pickup in the pace of raises, while Philadelphia cites firms more often paying in the high end of salary ranges. Richmond reports no pickup, but a continuation of "brisk" wage increases in services. Boston says manufacturing wage increases are in the same range as last year, Chicago cites a steady pace of labor cost increases, and Cleveland notes no reports of accumulating wage pressure, while Minneapolis and San Francisco mention moderate overall wage increases.

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