Summary of Economic Activity
Fourth District economic activity increased at moderate pace since the last Beige Book report. The share of business contacts reporting an increase in customer demand was unchanged over the period; however, far fewer firms noted a decrease in demand. The general improvement was evident across broad industry breakouts, but there was considerable variation within them. For example, spending on interest rate-sensitive goods (such as homes and light vehicles) was particularly robust, while spending in high-contact services segments (such as accommodation and food services) remained weak. The modest increase in customer demand was accompanied by an uptick in staffing levels. However, contacts suggested that hiring was difficult because of limited labor availability, which also exerted more upward pressure on wages. Supply chain constraints and higher costs of freight and some materials pushed up input prices, and a greater share of contacts were able to increase selling prices. While most firms expect demand to increase further in coming months, capital spending remained soft as firms continue to hold on to cash amid persistent uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
Read about economic conditions in the Fourth District’s major metropolitan areas.
The Columbus metro area continues to be one of the region’s strongest performers, with a low unemployment rate that continues to fall even as the labor force expands, steady employment growth, appreciating home prices, and low consumer debt and credit card delinquency levels. Read more
Economic conditions in the Toledo metro area continue to improve. The unemployment rate has fallen, and employment levels are holding relatively steady. The housing market is a particularly bright spot, with rising residential building permit numbers, growing home prices, and median home values that exceed their prerecession peak. Read more
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland maintains a number of advisory councils, which allow us to stay informed about how the economic environment is evolving across our District.
Learn more about our advisory councils here
District Data Briefs
Were Fourth District Local Governments Ready for a Recession? How the Great Recession Influenced How Much They Save
Did the Great Recession give local governments a better idea of how much savings they needed to weather another economic downturn? To find out, our economists studied financial statements from 25 cities and 25 counties in the Fourth District at two points in time: the most recent statements available and at the close of the 2007, just before the Great Recession. Read More
With economic conditions changing so rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the standard layoff indicators that policymakers and analysts use are falling short. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act data—a more timely indicator—reveal four findings about job loss during this pandemic. Read More
How Much Help Do State and Local Governments Need? Updated Estimates of Revenue Losses from Pandemic Mitigation
The financial impacts of closed economies and orders to shelter in place are staggering. Our economist estimates state and local revenue losses for 2020 and explores three scenarios to determine what cuts will be necessary in 2021 to offset impending losses. Read More
Early Benchmark Employment Estimates for Fourth District States and Metro Areas
Each year in March, the Labor Department releases revised local employment estimates, by using a nearly complete count of employment from an administrative dataset. Since these administrative data are available quarterly with an approximately six-month lag, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland compute an early-benchmark employment estimate for regions in the Fourth District. These estimates are intended to approximate the annual March revisions prior to their official release.
- Early benchmark data
- Early benchmark data geography reference
- DataBasics - Early Benchmarking (Dallas Fed)
Last updated: June 5, 2020
The industrial heartland is a geographic and economic region of the United States that comprises those parts of the Midwest and surrounding areas that have relied on manufacturing for a significant share of their economic well-being for most of the last century. Read more
Rust and Renewal Reports
Read about longer term changes to the District's economy in our Rust and Renewal reports, and access updates to the associated data.
While the Pittsburgh MSA suffered greatly during and after the twin recessions of the early 1980s, its experience during and after the Great Recession was altogether different. Read how the experiences differed in the Pittsburgh retrospective
Regional Analysis Team
- Guhan Venkatu Group Vice President
- Richard Kaglic Vice President and Senior Regional Officer
- Mekael Teshome Vice President and Senior Regional Officer
- Joel Elvery Policy Economist
- Rubén Hernández-Murillo Policy Economist
- Stephan D. Whitaker Policy Economist
- Julianne Dunn Economic Analyst
- Anya Briggs External Outreach Coordinator
- Hamza Abdelrahman Research Analyst
- Isabel Brizuela Research Analyst
- Mark Oleson Research Analyst