National Summary

This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond based on information collected on or before April 10, 2023. This document summarizes comments received from contacts outside the Federal Reserve System and is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials.

Overall Economic Activity
Overall economic activity was little changed in recent weeks. Nine Districts reported either no change or only a slight change in activity this period while three indicated modest growth. Expectations for future growth were mostly unchanged as well; however, two Districts saw outlooks deteriorate. Consumer spending was generally seen as flat to down slightly amid continued reports of moderate price growth. Auto sales remained steady overall, with only a couple of Districts reporting improved sales and inventory levels. Travel and tourism picked up across much of the country this period. Manufacturing activity was widely reported as flat or down even as supply chains continued to improve. Transportation and freight volumes were also flat to down, according to several Districts. On balance, residential real estate sales and new construction activity softened modestly. Nonresidential construction was little changed while sales and leasing activity was generally flat to down. Lending volumes and loan demand generally declined across consumer and business loan types. Several Districts noted that banks tightened lending standards amid increased uncertainty and concerns about liquidity. The majority of Districts reported steady to increasing demand and sales for nonfinancial services. Agriculture conditions were mostly unchanged in recent weeks while some softening was reported in energy markets.

Labor Markets
Employment growth moderated somewhat this period as several Districts reported a slower pace of growth than in recent Beige Book reports. A small number of firms reported mass layoffs, and those were centered at a subset of the largest companies. Some other firms opted to allow for natural attrition to occur, and to hire only for critically important roles. Contacts reported the labor market becoming less tight as several Districts noted increases to the labor supply. Additionally, firms benefited from better employee retention, which allowed them to hire for open roles while not constantly trying to back-fill positions. Wages have shown some moderation but remain elevated. Several Districts reported declining needs for off-cycle wage increases compared to last year.

Overall price levels rose moderately during this reporting period, though the rate of price increases appeared to be slowing. Contacts noted modest-to-sharp declines in the prices of nonlabor inputs and significantly lower freight costs in recent weeks. Nevertheless, producer prices for finished goods rose modestly this period, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Selling price pressures eased broadly in manufacturing and services sectors. Consumer prices generally increased due to still-elevated demand as well as higher inventory and labor costs. Prices for homes and rents leveled out in most Districts but remained at near record highs. Contacts expected further relief from input cost pressures but anticipated changing their prices more frequently compared to previous years.

Highlights by Federal Reserve District
Business activity was roughly even. Tourism contacts enjoyed moderate growth, while retail sales were flat, and manufacturing slowed. Home sales fell further. Headcounts rose modestly and wage growth was moderate. Prices increased modestly amid further easing of cost pressures. Some contacts worried that smaller banks might restrict lending over liquidity concerns, putting a damper on economic activity.

New York
Regional economic activity was little changed, though goods production picked up noticeably. The labor market has remained solid, with ongoing slight job growth and wage gains. Inflationary pressures moderated somewhat but remained widespread. Conditions in the broad finance sector deteriorated sharply coinciding with recent stress in the banking sector.

Business activity appeared to decline slightly during the current Beige Book period after increasing last period. Consumer demand ticked down, while employment held steady. Wage growth slowed to a modest pace. Price inflation subsided but continued to grow modestly. Banks reported tighter lending standards. Expectations were subdued as sentiment remained cautious.

Economic activity was generally flat in the Fourth District and developments in the banking sector appeared to have very little impact on either recent economic activity or credit availability. Labor demand eased, and the supply of workers increased, particularly for lower-wage positions. Wage and other cost pressures continued to ease.

The regional economy contracted slightly in recent weeks. Manufacturing activity, retail spending, and loan demand softened. Travel and tourism picked up moderately while nonfinancial service providers indicated steady demand. Real estate firms reported reduced activity, while transportation freight volumes contracted moderately. Employment rose slightly with moderate increase in wages. Prices grew at a strong rate.

Economic activity grew modestly. Labor markets improved further, and wage pressures eased slightly. Some nonlabor costs moderated and others remained unstable. Retail sales softened. Auto sales were robust. Tourism activity remained strong. Housing demand improved further. Transportation was mixed. Loan growth was solid. Energy demand was healthy. Agriculture remained mixed.

Economic activity was little changed. Employment increased moderately; consumer spending, business spending, and construction and real estate were flat; nonbusiness contacts saw little change in activity; and manufacturing demand decreased modestly. Prices and wages rose moderately, and financial conditions tightened moderately. Agricultural incomes were expected to be lower in 2023 than in 2022.

St. Louis
Economic conditions have remained unchanged since our previous report. Labor markets remained tight, but reports of easing increased. Firms struggled to pass on price increase to customers, and contacts across a range of industries reported supply chain improvements. Banking contacts reported slowing loan growth and a decline in deposits, but expressed confidence in their overall position.

Economic activity in the region grew slightly in recent weeks. Employment gains were modest, and labor supply improved slightly. Prices were steady and wages rose slightly; levels for both remained high. Consumer spending was flat. Manufacturing declined a bit, but the outlook was more positive. Construction activity improved slightly, save for residential building. Minority-and women-owned firms reported steady activity.

Kansas City
Total economic activity across the Tenth District declined slightly in March and April. However, almost every business contact reported no pull back in planned capital expenditures, hiring plans or planned wage increases in response to recent financial volatility. Worker retention was reportedly much higher, even as wage growth slowed. Households pulled back on spending, particularly on bigger ticket items like cars or home construction projects.

Modest growth continued, with steady gains in service sector activity and a pickup in home sales and manufacturing output. Job growth was modest, though hiring slowed sharply in services. The pace of price increases slowed. Outlooks were largely negative, and contacts voiced concern about weakening demand, a potential recession, and the spillover effects of the recent bank failures on the broader economy.

San Francisco
Economic activity expanded slightly. Employment levels were steady amid tight labor market conditions, while wage and price growth moderated further. Demand for retail goods softened, while demand for services was robust. Manufacturing activity was stable, while conditions in the agriculture sector slowed somewhat. Residential and commercial real estate activity fell, and lending activity declined substantially.

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Last Update: April 19, 2023