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Memphis Burgundy Book: Despite Difficulties, Business Contacts Are More Optimistic than Pessimistic about Memphis Economy in 2014


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Half of business contacts surveyed believe that economic conditions in the Memphis zone will be better next year; this is a modest improvement from three months earlier. In the current survey, only 7 percent expect conditions to worsen in 2014.

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.  Audio summaries of economic conditions in the zones are also available.

View the entire Memphis report at:

The Memphis zone of the Federal Reserve comprises northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, and western Tennessee and a total population of approximately 3.1 million people, including the 1.3 million who live in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

In the Memphis MSA, employment growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 (from a year earlier) outpaced the nation in the education and health, manufacturing, and financial activities industries; however, overall growth was weaker. Tennessee’s manufacturing employment rose briskly in the fourth quarter, but manufacturing employment was little changed in Mississippi.

In the fourth quarter, the Memphis zone’s unemployment rate averaged 9.6 percent, essentially unchanged from the previous quarter and much higher than the national average. Labor market conditions remain strongest in the Jonesboro, Ark., MSA.

Residential housing conditions remain healthy in the Memphis MSA, as house prices and single-family building permits posted robust gains in the fourth quarter. Conditions were generally weaker in other metro areas. The Memphis office vacancy rate in the fourth quarter was the highest among the four major MSAs in the District. 

Families continued to reduce their credit card and mortgage balances in the fourth quarter, and delinquency rates in the zone were generally lower than those seen nationally.

The number of nonperforming loans at Tennessee and Mississippi banks fell appreciably in the fourth quarter.

Because of declines in commodity prices over the past year, a majority of agricultural bankers expect lower farm income and capital expenditures compared with last year’s levels.

To view all of the Burgundy Books, see

In addition, MP3 audio clips of highlights from the Burgundy Books can be heard at

The next Burgundy Book will be released on June 24, 2014.