Beige Book: Economic Activity Expands, but Paces Vary

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
beige book

During weeks when the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is released, the On the Economy blog features a post based on the book on Wednesday in lieu of the regularly scheduled Thursday post.

National economic activity continued to expand, but the pace of growth varied across the nation, according to the latest Beige Book. Most Federal Reserve districts reported modest to moderate economic growth, with the St. Louis District1 reporting modest improvement.

Real Estate

Residential real estate activity strengthened, on balance, with robust growth in three districts and mixed reports in three others. Several districts credited a mild winter for stronger home sales, and the pace of home price increases picked up in a number of districts. Commercial real estate activity generally increased as well, with leasing activity and rents rising in many districts.

Residential real estate activity was strong in most of the St. Louis District. Residential construction activity was modestly positive throughout most of the District, with single-family building permits increasing in almost all metropolitan statistical areas in February compared with a year ago.

Labor Markets

Most districts reported job gains, and several districts (including the St. Louis District) reported rises in service industry employment. Energy companies continued to reduce payrolls, with reports of layoffs coming from the Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Dallas districts. Several districts reported difficulty filling certain low- and high-skilled occupations.

Wages increased in all districts but one (Atlanta). The St. Louis District was one of four to report moderate wage growth. Nationally, the strongest wage pressures were for occupations where labor shortages are pressing and turnover is elevated.

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending increased modestly in most districts in late February and March. Several cited generous discounts and promotions, favorable credit conditions, and low gas prices as supporting factors. In the St. Louis District, retail sales growth has been modest since the previous reporting period, with most contacts reporting a slight increase in sales compared with 2015 levels.

Notes and References

1 The St. Louis District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Additional Resources

Posted In Federal ReserveHousingLabor  |  Tagged beige bookreal estatelaborconsumer spending
Commenting Policy: We encourage comments and discussions on our posts, even those that disagree with conclusions, if they are done in a respectful and courteous manner. All comments posted to our blog go through a moderator, so they won't appear immediately after being submitted. We reserve the right to remove or not publish inappropriate comments. This includes, but is not limited to, comments that are:
  • Vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise disrespectful or discourteous
  • For commercial use, including spam
  • Threatening, harassing or constituting personal attacks
  • Violating copyright or otherwise infringing on third-party rights
  • Off-topic or significantly political
The St. Louis Fed will only respond to comments if we are clarifying a point. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters, so please edit your thinking before posting. While you will retain all of your ownership rights in any comment you submit, posting comments means you grant the St. Louis Fed the royalty-free right, in perpetuity, to use, reproduce, distribute, alter and/or display them, and the St. Louis Fed will be free to use any ideas, concepts, artwork, inventions, developments, suggestions or techniques embodied in your comments for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution, and without compensation to you. You will also waive all moral rights you may have in any comment you submit.
comments powered by Disqus

The St. Louis Fed uses Disqus software for the comment functionality on this blog. You can read the Disqus privacy policy. Disqus uses cookies and third party cookies. To learn more about these cookies and how to disable them, please see this article.

Subscribe to
On the Economy

Get notified when new content is available on our On the Economy blog.

Email Alerts  |  RSS

About the Blog

The St. Louis Fed On the Economy blog features relevant commentary, analysis, research and data from our economists and other St. Louis Fed experts.

Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis or of the Federal Reserve System.

Contact Us

For media-related questions, email For all other blog-related questions or comments, email