Housing market provides generally positive news, while employment remained essentially flat, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book released today.
The U.S. economy continued to grow at a modest to moderate pace in June and July, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book released today, though the rate of growth has slowed in the New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland districts.
Employment grew at a tepid pace across most of the country, with the Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas districts reporting essentially flat employment. Wage increases were concentrated among highly skilled workers in the fields of information technology, health care, transportation, professional services and manufacturing.
Inflation increased modestly across most of the country, partly due to declining commodity prices, such as cotton and energy.
The housing market provided a relative bright spot in the Fed’s most recent overview of the U.S. economy. Home sales increased across most of the nation, and construction activity picked up in the New York, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco districts. Home prices showed signs of stabilizing in some areas, and increased in others.
A strengthening demand for rental housing drove up rents in the Boston, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas areas. Multi-family construction picked up in San Francisco, was “strong” in the Atlanta and Chicago areas, and expected to pick up in Dallas.
The commercial real estate market was more mixed, showing modest improvements in Boston, Atlanta and St. Louis, but signs of weakening in the New York and Richmond areas.
Retail sales rose in all parts of the nation, with the exceptions of the Boston and Cleveland areas, which experienced flat sales, and the New York area, which saw a decline. Strengthening auto sales drove the increase in retail activity, particularly demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Manufacturing continued to expand in June and early July across most of the country, but at a slower rate compared to the beginning of the year. Declines in shipments and orders were observed in the Philadelphia and Richmond districts. The San Francisco area noted continued strength in semiconductor production, while the Dallas district noting a drop in sales for high-tech manufacturing.