The latest issue of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book suggests that economic activity continued to expand across all districts during the reporting period of mid-November to late December. Many contacts across the country expected somewhat faster growth over the coming months. In the St. Louis District,1 the pace of economic growth was slightly faster than the pace reported in the previous Beige Book.
Single-family residential real estate sales and construction were largely flat on balance across the districts. Several districts reported that sales declined somewhat on a year-over-year basis, including in the St. Louis District.
Payrolls in a variety of sectors expanded moderately during the reporting period, and significant wage pressures continued to be limited largely to workers with particular technical skills. In the St. Louis District, manufacturing payrolls expanded.
Consumer spending increased in most districts, with generally modest year-over-year gains in retail sales, and auto sales showed moderate to strong growth on a year-over-year basis. Travel and tourism picked up during the reporting period.
In the St. Louis District, anecdotal reports from retail contacts indicated that consumer demand had grown since the previous reporting period, with contacts attributing growth to low gas prices, improving regional labor markets and low interest rates.
1 The St. Louis Fed District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.