Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Fed's Beige Book: "Upward wage pressures increased and were moderate on balance"

by Bill McBride on 9/07/2016 02:18:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and based on information collected on or before August 29, 2016."

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace on balance during the reporting period of July through late August. Most Districts reported a "modest" or "moderate" pace of overall growth. However, Kansas City and New York reported no change in activity, and Philadelphia and Richmond noted that, while still expanding, activity slowed from the previous period. ...

Labor market conditions remained tight in most Districts, with moderate payroll growth noted in general. Upward wage pressures increased further and were moderate on balance, with more rapid gains reported for workers with selected specialized skill sets. Price increases remained slight overall.
emphasis added
And on real estate:
Activity in residential real estate markets expanded further in most Districts. Growth in residential construction activity was moderate across many Districts but robust in San Francisco, where contacts reported that contractors are bumping up against capacity constraints for new projects. In Minneapolis, strong growth in the construction of single-family units was offset somewhat by a slowdown in the construction of multifamily units. Contacts in Dallas reported that demand for low- to mid-priced homes remained strong, while demand for higher priced homes softened in Dallas and New York, and was flat in Chicago. By contrast, sales in Cleveland were equally skewed toward the entry-level and high-end segments of the market. Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, and St. Louis noted that home sales slowed in some areas of their Districts due to shortages of available units. Recent house price appreciation was reported to be modest in general. Contacts in several Districts were optimistic about future growth prospects, except in Kansas City, where respondents expect further declines in sales and inventories in the months ahead.

Commercial real estate activity expanded further in most Districts. Construction and sales rose only slightly in Boston, Kansas City, and St. Louis but grew at a faster clip in Cleveland and Dallas. In the Atlanta District, construction activity expanded moderately, but contractors reported tight supply conditions, with construction backlogs of one to two years. Contacts in Richmond and New York noted strong growth in industrial construction, and vacancy rates for industrial space fell to 10-year lows in the latter District. Commercial leasing activity strengthened in New York, Richmond, and San Francisco, but grew at a softer pace in Philadelphia, where contacts described the market as in a "lull, not a retreat." Vacancy rates on commercial properties increased along with completions in the Kansas City District. Commercial rents edged up in various Districts, including in Dallas and San Francisco. Contacts in several Districts cited only modest expectations for sales and construction activity moving forward, due in part to economic uncertainty surrounding the November elections.
Interesting comment on wage pressures. Real estate is decent.