Economic activity in the Fourth District has continued to grow in recent months, although the pace of expansion has slowed somewhat compared with earlier in the year.
Labor markets in the District have continued to improve. As of April 2017, employment in the District has grown about 0.7 percent, compared with the previous year. The unemployment rate in the District, in turn, has remained stable at about 5.0 percent over the past several months.
Anecdotal reports from District contacts indicate a modest softening of activity in recent months, especially in manufacturing. Contacts attributed this recent development to seasonal factors, as well as to a slowdown in auto manufacturing demand. Contacts noted, however, that compared with a year ago, business activity continues to increase. Retail contacts in the District, on the other hand, have continued to report worsened conditions over the past couple of months.
Fourth District Beige Book
The Beige Book, released 8 times a year, contains reports of economic conditions across the United States by region. Reports are based on information gathered primarily through interviews with business people and are prepared by each of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks for their respective Districts.
Below is the most recent summary from the Fourth District’s Beige Book report.Summary of Economic Activity
Aggregate business activity expanded at a moderate pace in the Fourth District during the reporting period. Labor markets continued to strengthen, with wage pressure coming from both low- and high-skilled workers. Upward pressure on input prices was prevalent in the construction and manufacturing sectors. Firms facing higher input prices frequently reported that they were able to raise selling prices and billing rates. Consumer spending at brick-and-mortar establishments rose slightly, while new motor vehicle sales strengthened. Manufacturing activity grew slightly, with a marked improvement for heavy equipment producers. Freight volume continued to expand. After slowing early in the first quarter, sales of new and existing single-family homes picked up. Activity in the commercial real estate market remains elevated. Credit portfolios grew slightly on balance.