Increased Hiring? So Says the Beige Book
Just over half of the employers in a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta survey said they expect to add staff in the next year, while a third said they foresee stable employment, according to the Beige Book released on January 17 .
Despite ongoing challenges with finding and keeping high-skilled and low-skilled workers, Atlanta Fed contacts overall reported steady but modest wage growth. However, employers noted that negotiations over compensation were more prevalent among highly skilled and specialized employees.
On balance, business contacts in the Atlanta Fed's six-state district remained largely positive regarding the economy. Most said conditions were improving modestly during the six-week period covering December and early January. Most said they anticipate continued slow, steady growth in the coming months.
From other economic sectors, the Beige Book reported:
- Trucking companies experienced a busy peak holiday season because of big increases in ecommerce volumes. Meanwhile, logistics contacts reported greater demand in part because of hurricane rebuilding.
- While merchants said early holiday sales exceeded expectations, automobile dealers reported sales compared with a year earlier.
- Tourism boomed during the holidays. And hospitality and travel contacts reported strong advance bookings in the conference and business travel segments for the first quarter of 2018.
- Many commercial real estate contacts said increased demand led to higher rents, particularly for industrial, warehouse, and distribution space.
- From the energy sector, contacts indicated that utilities continued switching to natural gas to fuel power generation. And liquid natural gas exports increased slightly with additional liquefaction capacity.