Beige Book: Manufacturing Activity Growing at ‘Robust Pace’
According to the latest Fed Beige Book, all twelve Federal Reserve districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand since the previous report. Most districts were optimistic about the outlook for growth.
Overall consumer spending increased in every district. Retail sales grew modestly in most districts, with increases that were generally similar to the previous reporting period.
Activity in the nonfinancial services sector continued to grow across all districts at a modest to moderate pace. Many districts reported positive growth for professional and business services, including healthcare consulting, advertising, engineering, accounting, and technology.
Overall, transportation activity rose at a moderate pace since the previous survey period. Broad-based demand for trucking and rail services across the districts increased, and the Richmond district reported strong growth in port container traffic, with increases in both imports and exports.
Manufacturing activity expanded in all twelve districts. Contacts in the metal and auto industries generally reported positive growth, while manufacturers in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago districts reported increased demand for their products from the energy sector.
Loan volumes rose across the nation, with slight to moderate increases reported in most districts. Credit quality remained stable or improved slightly in most districts, while San Francisco noted a slight decline. Credit standards were generally unchanged, although Richmond noted an easing of cost terms for well-qualified commercial and industrial borrowers, and Philadelphia and Chicago mentioned that competitive pressures were leading some financial institutions to take on higher credit risks.
Labor market conditions improved, as all twelve Districts reported slight to moderate employment growth. Several Districts continued to report some difficulty finding workers for skilled positions. Aside from higher wages to attract talent for these skilled positions, wage pressures remained modest in most districts.
Manufacturing activity expanded further in all twelve districts since the previous survey period, with growth occurring across many subsectors. Manufacturing activity in the New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco districts grew at a robust pace, while the manufacturing sectors in the Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts increased at a more modest pace. Compared with the previous report, the pace of growth slowed slightly in the Boston, St. Louis, and Kansas City districts, and increased in the Richmond district.
To link to the Federal Reserve Beige Book, click here.