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Louisville Burgundy Book: Despite Slower Growth, Louisville Business Contacts Remain Optimistic


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A survey of Louisville zone business contacts showed modestly higher levels of optimism about the economy in 2014 than existed 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.  Audio summaries of economic conditions in the zones are also available.

View the entire Louisville report at:

The Louisville zone of the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District covers 64 counties in western Kentucky and 24 counties in southern Indiana. It represents a total population of close to 3.4 million people, including close to 1.3 million people who live in the Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The Louisville zone’s unemployment rate averaged 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014, its lowest rate since 2008. Although nonfarm payroll employment increased in most MSAs in the first quarter of 2014, the increases generally trailed the national average.

Louisville’s manufacturing employment continued to post healthy growth in the first quarter, although the rate of gain was a bit slower than in the previous quarter. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment fell in the first quarter but Indiana’s rose sharply.

Residential construction activity and single-family home prices declined in most areas in the first quarter, although business contacts in Louisville continued to report robust growth in the multi-family sector. Industrial construction activity has also improved, largely because of strong demand from e-commerce.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, nominal per capita income for Indiana and Kentucky rose modestly faster than the national pace. The pace of consumer auto debt, while continuing to increase, has slowed sharply over the past few quarters.

Asset quality at Kentucky and Indiana banks improved modestly in the first quarter. Although profits (return on assets) increased modestly at Kentucky banks, profits declined modestly at Indiana banks. However, the latter most likely reflected one-time, special factors.

The USDA’s spring planting intentions report showed that Indiana and Kentucky farmers intend to plant fewer acres of corn but more acres of soybeans.

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 Books will be released on September 23, 2014.