Fed's Beige Book: Economic Growth "Slight to moderate", Labor Market "Tight"
Fed's Beige Book "This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis based on information collected on or before April 8, 2019."
Economic activity expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April. While most Districts reported that growth continued at a similar pace as the previous report, a few Districts reported some strengthening. There was little change in the outlook among contacts in reporting Districts, with those expecting slight-to-modest growth in the months ahead. Reports on consumer spending were mixed but suggested sluggish sales for both general retailers and auto dealers. Reports on tourism were generally more upbeat. Reports on loan demand were mixed, but indicated steady growth. Reports on manufacturing activity were favorable, although contacts in many Districts noted trade-related uncertainty. Most Districts reported stronger home sales, although some Districts noted low demand for higher-priced homes. Among reporting Districts, agricultural conditions remained weak, with contacts expressing concerns over the impact of current and future rainfall and flooding.
Employment continued to increase nationwide, with nine Districts reporting modest or moderate growth and the other three reporting slight growth. While contacts reported gains across a variety of industries, employment increases were most highly concentrated in high-skilled jobs. However, labor markets remained tight, restraining the rate of growth. A majority of Districts cited shortages of skilled laborers, most commonly in manufacturing and construction.