Economy Watch: Beige Book Reports Expanding Construction and Real Estate Activity

The Federal Reserve published its compendium of anecdotal information about the condition of the economy.

Ahead of the official jobs numbers on Friday, the Federal Reserve published its compendium of anecdotal information about the condition of the economy on Wednesday, the Beige Book, which is gleaned from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. This edition mostly described modest economic growth since the last report.

“Economic activity in April through mid-May increased at a moderate pace in the San Francisco District, while modest growth was reported by Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis,” the book said, referring to districts, not the cities or metros that the districts are named after.

Construction and real estate activity generally expanded since the last report, and the overall outlook remained positive, the Beige Book also said. Commercial construction activity increased in Philadelphia, Richmond, and Minneapolis. Strong project pipelines were reported in Cleveland, and some contractors in Atlanta noted one- to two-year backlogs. An uptick in industrial construction was cited in St. Louis, while activity was varied across markets in Boston.

Residential construction increased in most districts but was mixed in Richmond and Dallas, where some markets saw a decline in single-family construction. In Chicago, a slight increase in residential construction was concentrated in single-family and suburban markets. St. Louis reported an uptick in residential construction, and the expectation of a similar increase next quarter.

Multifamily construction continued to grow in many districts, the book noted, including New York, St. Louis and Dallas, but a slowing was seen in Atlanta. In the heated San Francisco district, construction of multifamily units continued to outpace single-family units. In Boston, apartment construction remained very active, but related lending slowed among smaller banks.

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