In the latest issue of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, all 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand since the previous report. This was the second consecutive Beige Book release with all Districts reporting expanded economic activity. The St. Louis Fed was one of seven banks to report modest expansion, with the remaining five banks describing higher moderate growth in their Districts.
Residential real estate activity continued to vary by District, reflecting generally low inventories and mixed levels of demand. Home prices continued to rise across most of the Districts, especially within urban areas.
In the St. Louis District, sales of new and existing homes decreased in the largest metro areas, while commercial and industrial real estate market conditions have improved, on balance, since the previous report.
Labor market conditions continued to improve since the previous report, with all Districts reporting slight to moderate employment growth. However, employers in several Districts, including the St. Louis District, reported difficulty finding workers for some skilled positions. Wage pressures remained modest for most Districts, outside of the pressures of those difficult-to-fill skilled positions. Business contacts in the St. Louis District indicated that wage and employment growth has been modest.
Manufacturing activity expanded further in all 12 Districts since the previous survey period. The St. Louis District was one of seven Districts to experience modest manufacturing growth, along with the Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Kansas City and Dallas Districts. Manufacturing in the remaining Districts—New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco—grew at a robust pace.
Several manufacturing firms reported plans to add workers, expand operations or open new facilities in the St. Louis District, while a smaller number reported plans to reduce their workforces.