The economy continues to grow at a modest pace in the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve System, according to economic analysis of the region.
On Wednesday (April 19), the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis released the April edition of The Beige Book, updating economic conditions across the Eighth District.
Employment increased modestly, and wages rose moderately since the previous Beige Book was released March 1. Inflation pressure remained modest. Consumer spending grew at a moderate pace, “with a moderate uptick in auto sales toward the end of the first quarter.”
“Real estate activity was little changed, while district banks reported moderate growth in loan demand,” the book shows. “Activity in agriculture and natural resources remains weak because of low commodity prices; however, conditions remain generally unchanged since the previous report.”
The Eighth District includes zones in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. The Little Rock zone encompasses the majority of Arkansas, with the eastern part of the state included in the Memphis zone.
Memphis and Little Rock are experiencing worker shortages, and the manufacturing industry is struggling to hire and retain experienced employees. The difficulty to hire experienced workers has hampered growth in transportation and manufacturing, according to the book. In Little Rock, the labor market is so tight “even with on-the-job training, there is significant turnover.”