The latest issue of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book reports that all 12 Fed districts experienced expanded economic activity over the current reporting period. The St. Louis Fed reported that the Eighth District’s economy grew modestly since the last report.
Nationally, consumer spending grew at a moderate pace. All but three districts reported modest or moderate growth in non-auto retail sales. New vehicle sales were generally described as robust in the latest reporting period, while sales of used cars and trucks continued to lag.
St. Louis Fed retail contacts gave generally positive reports about sales in April and early May. Two-thirds of auto dealers saw increased sales during this period, compared with the same period last year. One-fourth of auto dealers reported decreased sales, and the rest saw no change.
All 12 Fed districts saw expanded manufacturing activity, and several districts experienced a pickup in the pace of growth. The Eighth District was one of six districts to have modest growth. Several manufacturing firms around the District plan to add workers, expand operations or open new facilities, while a smaller number of firms plan to reduce employment.
Residential real estate activity was mixed during the current reporting period, with a lack of inventory sometimes cited as a constraint, and house prices increased across most districts. Reports were also mixed for residential construction, with the St. Louis District showing some weakening in new home sales and construction.
Overall, labor market conditions have improved since the last report. The St. Louis Fed was one of nine Fed banks to report that employment levels were flat to up modestly. In the Eighth District, 58 percent of contacts said wages have stayed the same, while the remainder said wages have increased.