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Fed’s Beige Book: “Overall economic activity increased slightly”


Fed’s Beige Book “This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis based on information collected on or before June 30, 2023.”Overall economic activity increased slightly since late May. Five Districts reported slight or modest growth, five noted no change, and two reported slight and modest declines. Reports on consumer spending were mixed; growth was generally observed in consumer services, but some retailers noted shifts away from discretionary spending. Tourism and travel activity was robust, and hospitality contacts expected a busy summer season. Auto sales remained unchanged or exhibited moderate growth across most Districts. Manufacturing activity edged up in half of the Districts and declined in the other half. Transportation activity was down or flat in most Districts that reported on it, as some contacts reported reduced demand due to high inventory levels and others noted continued challenges from labor shortages. Banking conditions were mostly subdued, as lending activity continued to soften. Despite higher mortgage rates, demand for residential real estate remained steady, although sales were constrained by low inventories. Construction for both residential and commercial units was slightly lower on balance. Agricultural conditions were mixed geographically but softened slightly on balance, with some contacts expecting further softening for the remainder of 2023. Energy activity decreased. Overall economic expectations for the coming months generally continued to call for slow growth.

Employment increased modestly this period, with most Districts experiencing some job growth. Labor demand remained healthy, though some contacts reported that hiring was getting more targeted and selective. Employers continued to have difficulty finding workers, particularly in health care, transportation, and hospitality, and for high-skilled positions in general. However, many Districts reported that labor availability had improved and that some employers were having an easier time hiring than they were having previously. Employers also reported that the unusually high turnover rates in recent years appear to be returning to pre-pandemic norms. Wages continued to rise, but more moderately. Contacts in multiple Districts reported that wage increases were returning to or nearing pre-pandemic levels.
emphasis added

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