ST. LOUIS – Employment growth in the zone during the fourth quarter of 2012 was weaker than for the nation, according to the most recent edition of the St. Louis Burgundy Book released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. However, business contacts appeared cautiously optimistic about the outlook for employment and earnings growth. Many of Missouri’s smaller cities continued to register some of the lowest unemployment rates in the Eighth District.
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 St. Louis report at: research.stlouisfed.org/regecon/burgundybooks/13/03/BB0313StL.pdf
The St. Louis region covers 71 counties in eastern Missouri and 45 counties in southern Illinois. It represents a total population of approximately 5.6 million people, including the close to 3 million who live in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
According to the St. Louis report, manufacturing conditions in Missouri weakened in the fourth quarter: Manufacturing employment fell for the first time in this business expansion. In contrast, manufacturing employment in Illinois increased by 3.3 percent, far surpassing the nation’s 1.2 percent increase.
Much like the nation, single-family home building activity remained strong in the zone and well above last year’s pace. New and existing home sales in the fourth quarter in the St. Louis MSA were up sharply from four quarters earlier. In contrast, home prices in the zone fell in the fourth quarter compared with the nation’s brisk increase.
Per capita personal income growth in Illinois during the third quarter surpassed growth in both Missouri and the nation. Household mortgage and credit card balances fell slightly in the fourth quarter, though the declines were smaller than for the nation. Illinois’s public finances worsened in the third quarter, as tax revenues were about 2.5 percent lower than a year earlier.
Commercial bank performance in both Illinois and Missouri continued to trail both Eighth District and U.S. peer banks during the fourth quarter. In contrast, southern Illinois banks outperformed their Illinois and Missouri counterparts. Agricultural banks in the zone have been helped by large crop insurance payments paid to farmers in the aftermath of last year’s drought.
To view all of the Burgundy Books, see research.stlouisfed.org/regecon/district.html.
In addition, MP3 audio clips of highlights from the Burgundy Books can be heard at stlouisfed.org/newsroom/multimedia/audio/20130314-burgundybooks.cfm. 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.