Economic activity expanded across most regions, according to the latest issue of the Beige Book, which surveys conditions in each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts. Districts reported a range of economic conditions from moderate growth to holding steady. The St. Louis District1 was one of three districts to report modest growth.
Residential real estate conditions were steady or improved in all Fed districts except one (New York). Most districts reported a tight supply of residential real estate in most price points of the market. Many contacts across the country expected a greater-than-normal increase in home sales once spring arrived.
Activity in the St. Louis District was steady, with home sales increasing on a year-over-year basis. However, residential construction activity decreased in most District metro areas in February compared with one year ago. Commercial and industrial real estate activity was mixed.
Labor market conditions were stable or showed modest improvement in most districts. The St. Louis District was one of six districts to report increases in hiring or employment levels. Anecdotal information suggested modest employment growth and moderate wage pressures in the District.
Auto sales rose in most districts, and travel and tourism started to rebound from the harsh winter weather. The St. Louis District was one of five districts to report higher retail sales, and the outlook for retailers in the District was generally optimistic. Also, restaurant sales grew moderately during the reporting period.
1 The St. Louis District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.