Summary of Economic Activity
Economic activity increased moderately and at a similar pace to the previous reporting period. Activity increased at a brisk pace for professional services, freight haulers, and firms whose sales benefitted from low interest rates (such as homebuilders and durable goods producers). Firms in industries that were most impacted by the pandemic (such as hospitality, aerospace, and energy) saw little improvement in demand. Staff levels increased slightly as customer demand improved. However, most firms were still below pre-pandemic staff levels. Although labor availability had improved recently, many firms report ongoing difficulty finding workers. Idiosyncratic disruptions to production as well as shipping delays pushed up transportation rates and costs for certain construction and manufacturing inputs. Selling prices rose moderately as a result. Looking ahead, contacts expected modest improvement in customer demand, although expectations have been tempered since the previous reporting period because of the uncertainty of the coronavirus's path. Consequently, outlooks for hiring in the year ahead were also restrained.
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: January 26, 2021
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