Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Earlier Fed's Beige Book: Economic Growth "Modest", Labor Market "Tight"

by Calculated Risk on 7/17/2019 04:11:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco based on information collected on or before July 8, 2019. "

Economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace overall from mid-May through early July, with little change from the prior reporting period. In most Districts, sales of retail goods increased slightly overall, although vehicle sales were flat. Activity in the nonfinancial services sector rose further. Tourism activity was broadly solid, with Atlanta and Richmond recording robust growth in this sector. Although some Districts continued to report healthy expansion in the transportation sector, others noted that activity declined modestly. On balance, home sales picked up somewhat, but residential construction activity was flat. Nonresidential construction activity increased or remained strong in most reporting Districts, and commercial rents rose. Manufacturing production was generally flat, but a few Districts noted a modest pickup in activity since the last reporting period. Agricultural output declined modestly following unusually heavy rainfall in some areas, and oil and gas production fell somewhat. Increased demand for loans was broad-based, with all but two Districts noting some growth in financing activity. The outlook generally was positive for the coming months, with expectations of continued modest growth, despite widespread concerns about the possible negative impact of trade-related uncertainty.
...
On balance, employment grew at a modest pace, slightly slower than the previous reporting period. Labor markets remained tight, with contacts across the country experiencing difficulties filling open positions. The reports noted continued worker shortages across most sectors, especially in construction, information technology, and health care. However, some manufacturing and information technology firms in the Northeast reduced their number of workers. A few reports highlighted concerns about securing and renewing work visas, flagging this as a source of uncertainty for continued employment growth. Compensation grew at a modest-to-moderate pace, similar to the last reporting period, although some contacts emphasized significant increases in entry-level wages. Most District reports also noted that employers expanded benefit packages in response to the tight labor market conditions.
emphasis added