by Calculated Risk on 6/02/2021 02:03:00 PM
Fed’s Beige Book “This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland based on information collected on or before May 25, 2021.”
The national economy expanded at a moderate pace from early April to late May, a somewhat faster rate than the prior reporting period. Several Districts cited the positive effects on the economy of increased vaccination rates and relaxed social distancing measures, while they also noted the adverse impacts of supply chain disruptions. The effects of expanded vaccination rates were perhaps most notable in consumer spending in which increases in leisure travel and restaurant spending augmented ongoing strength in other spending categories. Light vehicle sales remained solid but were often constrained by tight inventories. Factory output increased further even as significant supply chain challenges continued to disrupt production. Manufacturers reported that widespread shortages of materials and labor along with delivery delays made it difficult to get products to customers. Similar challenges persisted in construction. Homebuilders often noted that strong demand, buoyed by low mortgage interest rates, outpaced their capacity to build, leading some to limit sales. Nonresidential construction increased at a moderate pace, on balance, even as contacts in several Districts said that supply chain disruptions pushed costs higher and, in some cases, delayed projects. Demand for professional and business services increased moderately, while demand for transportation services (including at ports) was exceptionally strong. Lending volumes increased modestly, with gains in both household and business loans. Overall, expectations changed little, with contacts optimistic that economic growth will remain solid.
Staffing levels increased at a relatively steady pace, with two-thirds of Districts reporting modest employment growth over the reporting period and the remainder indicating employment gains were moderate. As the spread of COVID-19 continued to slow, employment growth was strongest in food services, hospitality, and retail. Manufacturers also added workers in several Districts. It remained difficult for many firms to hire new workers, especially low-wage hourly workers, truck drivers, and skilled tradespeople. The lack of job candidates prevented some firms from increasing output and, less commonly, led some businesses to reduce their hours of operation. Overall, wage growth was moderate, and a growing number of firms offered signing bonuses and increased starting wages to attract and retain workers. Contacts expected that labor demand will remain strong, but supply constrained, in the months ahead.
What's your reaction?