ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis zone’s economy appeared to pick up steam in the second quarter, according to the most recent edition of the St. Louis Burgundy Book published today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, as employment in all of the zone’s MSAs registered positive growth for the first time in five years. Business optimism also improved over the past three months, as only 11 percent of business contacts surveyed expect to reduce their payrolls, down from 20 percent from three months earlier.
The Burgundy Books offer comprehensive data and information on the economic conditions of each of the St. Louis Fed’s four zones: St. Louis, Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis. The publication, which is released quarterly, includes the following sections: labor markets, manufacturing, real estate and construction, the household sector, banking and finance, and agriculture and natural resources.
View the entire St. Louis report at: research.stlouisfed.org/regecon/burgundybooks/13/09/BB0913StL.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, the pace of manufacturing activity was slow in the second quarter, as hours worked was essentially unchanged from three months earlier. Statewide, though, manufacturing employment growth in Missouri was slightly positive and fared better than in Illinois.
The zone’s unemployment rate averaged 7.4 percent in the second quarter, which was unchanged from three months earlier. Unemployment rates remained below 6 percent in three of the five zone MSAs.
Commercial real estate conditions improved modestly over the past three months, as vacancy rates fell across most segments. On the residential side, home sales and building permits continued to post solid gains and the pace of house-price appreciation accelerated.
Household financial conditions improved modestly over the past three months, as delinquency rates continued to fall. Commercial bank profitability rebounded slightly in the St. Louis zone, though the improvement was more noticeable among banks in southern Illinois.
Corn and soybean production in Illinois and Missouri is expected to increase sharply in 2013, following last year’s drought-damaged harvest.
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/20130912-burgundybooks.cfm. They are available in both English and Spanish.
The remaining Burgundy Books for 2013 will be released on December 12.