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St. Louis Burgundy Book: Mixed Bag: Business Optimism, Job Growth, but Higher Unemployment


ST. LOUIS –Similar to our February survey, a majority of St. Louis-area business contacts continue to expect that local economic conditions in 2014 will be better than last year.

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 St. Louis report at:

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 close to 3 million people who live in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The St. Louis zone’s unemployment rate averaged 7.2 percent in the first quarter, a sizable increase from the previous quarter. Still, the zone continues to have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the District. Nonfarm payroll employment growth picked up modestly across most of the zone’s MSAs.

The St. Louis MSA experienced a modest decline in manufacturing employment in the first quarter that more than offset the previous quarter’s increase. In Illinois, manufacturing payrolls declined for the second straight quarter despite a brisk increase in manufactured exports.

Residential home prices increased in three of the four MSAs, paced by sizable increases in St. Louis and Columbia. However, single-family building permits were more mixed. Nonresidential vacancy rates were generally lower in the first quarter than in the previous quarter.

Mortgage and credit card balances rose modestly in the first quarter, but still remained below last year’s levels; mortgage loan delinquencies were about half of the national average.

For the first time in nearly two years, southern Illinois banks registered an increase in profits (return on average assets). Most bankers surveyed expect loan demand and credit standards to remain unchanged over the next three months.

A late-March survey of agricultural banks showed that a sizable proportion expect farm income and capital expenditures by farmers in the second quarter of 2014 will be lower than a year earlier.

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.