Agricultural conditions mixed in latest Beige Book

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Residential and commercial construction increased, vehicle sales mixed.

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Overall economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace across all 12 Federal Reserve Districts in July and August, according to The Beige Book released on Sept. 6.

The Beige Book is a Federal Reserve System publication about current economic conditions in the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. The data in this issue was collected primarily before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas.

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Here’s a look at what’s inside the latest Beige Book.

On the plus side:

  • Gains were reported for non-auto retail sales and tourism.

  • Capital spending increased in several districts.

  • Residential and commercial construction increased slightly.

  • Manufacturing activity expanded.

  • There was positive activity in the energy and natural resources sector.

On the fence

  • Vehicle sales were mixed.

  • Agricultural conditions were mixed with drought conditions reported in multiple districts.

Employment and wages

  • Employment growth slowed and labor markets are tight with reports of worker shortages in manufacturing and construction.

  • There was modest to moderate wage growth across majority of districts with limited wage pressure.

Prices

  • Prices rose modestly overall across the country.

  • Input and material costs generally increased, notably for freight, lumber and steel.

  • Movements in energy and agriculture were mixed.

  • Home prices increased overall.

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