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Memphis Burgundy Book: Business Contacts Expect Little Change in Local Conditions During Next Three Months


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Labor market conditions in the Memphis zone were generally weaker than for the nation in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the most recent edition of the Memphis Burgundy Book released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Business contacts expect continued slow growth of employment in the first quarter of 2013, but stronger growth of average weekly earnings.

The release of the first quarter 2013 edition features an expanded and redesigned version of the publication, which is published quarterly for each of the St. Louis Fed’s four zones: St. Louis, Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis.  The new version of the publication offers more comprehensive data and information on the economic conditions of each zone with the following new or expanded sections: labor markets, manufacturing, real estate and construction, the household sector, banking and finance, agriculture and natural resources and the public sector.

View the entire Memphis report at:

The Memphis zone of the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District covers 21 counties in western Tennessee, 13 counties in eastern Arkansas and 39 counties in northern Mississippi.  It represents a total population of close to 3.1 million people, including the 1.3 million people who live in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).  
According to the report, in the Memphis MSA, nonfarm employment growth was fairly flat and the unemployment rate remained above the nation’s rate.

Manufacturing conditions continued to improve, reflecting solid employment growth in Tennessee in the fourth quarter. Business contacts recently surveyed were relatively upbeat, reporting increases in new orders.

As in most areas of the Eighth District, home building activity remained well above last year’s pace, shown by double-digit gains in single-family building permits. Also, in the Memphis MSA, new and existing home sales in the fourth quarter were well above the nation’s roughly 11 percent increase. At the same time, house prices across the zone were fairly flat, noticeably less than the nation’s 7.1 percent increase.

The latest data indicate that per capita personal income growth for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee outpaced the nation’s growth during the third quarter. Similar to other areas of the District, household mortgage and credit card balances edged lower on a per capita basis in the fourth quarter, though the declines were generally smaller than for the nation. At the same time, per capita auto debt balances rose sharply in the fourth quarter and, for the most part, exceeded the nation’s increase by significant margins.

Loan delinquency rates for banks in the Memphis zone were similar to other U.S. peer banks, though there was healthy improvement in asset quality reported by Arkansas and Tennessee banks. For the most part, bankers in the zone continued to see soft loan demand.

To view all of the Burgundy Books, see

In addition, MP3 audio clips of highlights from the Burgundy Books can be heard at They are available in both English and Spanish.  

The remaining Burgundy Books for 2013 will be released on June 13, September 12 and December 12.