April 23, 2012
The Southeast economy expanded modestly in February, according to the most recent Data Digest from the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network (REIN).
The state-by-state report noted continued improvement in the region's labor market. In a few states—Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee—unemployment rates are below the U.S. average. Other states still have unemployment rates above the national average but have seen modest declines in the jobless rate. Georgia, for example, has seen its jobless rate decline each month since July 2011, to 9.1 percent in February.
Housing markets, another closely watched sector of the southeastern economy, are also showing tentative signs of recovery. Similar to the national trend, new home construction is still near record lows across the region. Although most southeastern states recorded declines in the number of new home permits, Georgia and Louisiana experienced an increase in permits. According to the Atlanta Fed's business contact survey, southeastern residential real estate brokers reported softening home prices in February, while builders noted more moderate declines. Both expect home prices to remain positive in the next several months.
For more information about the southeastern economy, check out the entire Data Digest online, complete with data and analysis on the region's key sectors.