Fed: Things are picking up

The Federal Reserve issued its “beige book” today, a “how are we doing economically” assessment of the country for September into early October. in the 9th District — that’s the Fed in Minneapolis — the survey reads better than many other districts in the country. Wages are up, retail spending is up, and only commercial construction seems on the ropes.

No doubt the experts will find the “but” involved here, but the report sure sounds optimistic.

Here’s the short version:

CONSUMER SPENDING

A major Minneapolis-based retailer reported that same-store sales in September were up about 1 percent compared with a year earlier. September traffic at a North Dakota mall was up over 10 percent from a year ago, which was a surprise following a slight decrease in August, according to the mall manager. Cooler fall weather seemed to attract shoppers.

TOURISM

Rooms sold at Montana hotels were up almost 11 percent in August from a year earlier, according to a state tourism research organization. A tourism official in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan noted that the summer season finished well ahead of a year ago and that fall traffic seems to be holding up. Minnesota lodging and campground operators noted increases in summer business from a year earlier and were more optimistic for fall tourism than a year ago.

CONSTRUCTION

The value of nonresidential permits in Sioux Falls, S.D., fell dramatically in September from a year earlier; in contrast, September commercial permits increased substantially in Rochester, Minn. Residential construction was mixed.

SERVICES

“We are swamped with great projects,” commented a design and advertising firm. Information technology consulting firms noted solid interest from corporate clients.

MANUFACTURING

A September survey of purchasing managers by Creighton University (Omaha, Neb.) showed strong increases in manufacturing activity in Minnesota and South Dakota, and slight increases in North Dakota.

MINING

Most District mines were operating near capacity. Iron ore production in Minnesota increased in August compared with July.

AGRICULTURE

Widespread wet conditions delayed some farmers from harvesting their bountiful crops.

EMPLOYMENT

A department store chain with locations in Minnesota noted that it expects to increase seasonal hiring, while another large retailer will soon open a store in Minnesota with plans to hire about 130 employees.

Here’s the entire survey.

  • Jeanne

    I have a friend who got one of those seasonal jobs in the EMPLOYMENT category. She is earning minimum wage and her employment is categorized as ‘on call.’ Therefore, she never knows how many hours of work she’s going to get in any given week during her seasonal employment. Needless to say, she accepted the job, but continues to look for other employment.

    I would venture to guess that many people would not categorize that as a job that someone could live on. I find it more than a little frustrating that federal entities ‘play’ with numbers to portray them any way they want.