In the June 4 release of its Beige Book Economic Report, the Federal Reserve says all twelve Federal Reserve Districts reported economic activity had expanded during the current reporting period. Growth was described as ‘moderate’ in most districts including New York and Chicago. Cleveland and St. Louis noted growth ‘picked up’, while growth in Kansas City slowed but remained positive.
Consumer spending expanded across almost all Districts, but to varying degrees. Non-auto retail sales grew at a moderate pace across most of the country. While improved weather generally gave a boost to business, lingering wintry weather (during the early part of the reporting period) in the Northeast continued to weigh on sales in parts of the Boston and New York Districts.
Increasingly strong new vehicle sales were reported by more than half the Districts, with most other regions seeing steady sales; demand was generally reported to be less robust for used vehicles than for new vehicles.
Residential real estate activity was mixed across the country, with some reports of low inventories constraining sales--specifically in the Boston, New York, and Kansas City Districts. Still, home prices continued to increase across most of the country, while the markets for both condos and apartment rentals were mostly robust. Residential construction activity was mixed, with half the Districts reporting increases but a few indicating some weakening in activity; multi-family construction remained particularly robust. Both non-residential construction activity and commercial real estate markets were generally steady to stronger since the last report.
Manufacturing activity expanded throughout the nation with a notable improvement along the East Coast. Growth was particularly strong for several Distracts related to motor vehicles, aerospace, and metals. Construction related materials activity was mixed.
Labor market conditions generally strengthened in the latest reporting period, with hiring activity steady to stronger across most of the country, and several Districts reporting shortages of skilled workers. In most Districts, wage increases have remained generally subdued, though Chicago and Dallas noted increased costs for health benefits. Prices of both inputs and finished goods and services were mostly steady to up slightly.
Click here for the full Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District