All 12 Federal Reserve districts reported economic expansion in the latest issue of the Beige Book. The St. Louis District1 was one of seven to report moderate growth over the reporting period.
Several districts, including the St. Louis District, reported that residential real estate activity increased during the reporting period. Commercial real estate activity was also mostly positive across several districts.
The St. Louis District was one of seven to report that home sales were generally increasing across most markets. Commercial real estate activity in the St. Louis District was mostly positive and featured low and declining vacancy rates.
Employment levels picked up in various industries across the country. Wage pressures were modest across most of the country, except for specialized skill and high-demand occupations in sectors such as information technology, transportation and construction.
Service-related firms expanded their payrolls in five districts, including the St. Louis District. Some St. Louis District contacts noted that starting wages and salaries have been increasing for administrative support and information technology positions.
Consumer spending increased across all districts. Three districts said low energy prices helped boost spending, while two border districts noted weakness tied to the rising dollar along border areas. Auto sales were up in all reporting districts, except in the St. Louis District, where sales were mixed.
Despite auto sales being mixed in the St. Louis District, activity in auto parts and service departments increased. Some contacts attributed this to customers investing in their own cars, rather than buying new ones.
1 The St. Louis District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.