The June report from the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network (REIN) highlighted positive developments in the Sixth District economy but also noted several sectors where conditions had weakened.
The District's agricultural sector saw positive trends in May in citrus and cotton crops as well as poultry production. While citrus prices were stable, improving domestic conditions and stronger export demand have boosted prices for cotton and poultry.
Employment in the Sixth District, while still weak, improved in May as the rate of job losses slowed and 72,000 new jobs were added. Despite the improvement, the unemployment rates in most District states remain among the highest in the nation.
On the downside, recent gains in retail sales and consumer confidence slipped in May, with sales falling 1.2 percent from the previous month. May's decline marked the first monthly drop since September 2009, but sales are still up on a year-over-year basis. According to the report, the decline was largely due to a drop in sales at building materials, equipment, and supply stores. Meanwhile, nationwide consumer confidence as measured by the Conference Board fell 10 points from May to June; confidence also fell in the Southeast.
The June REIN report features a new section highlighting the results of monthly surveys that gauge Southeastern business contacts' opinions about the factors affecting business conditions. This information helps Atlanta Fed analysts and economists interpret and anticipate developments in the regional economy.
For more data and analysis on these and other important sectors in the Sixth District, read the full report.