Southeast Economy Improving

January 23, 2014

jobs Economic activity across the region has improved since the end of the recession. However, progress in three southeastern states is slower than for the United States as a whole. Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee were the exceptions in the second half of 2013—the coincident economic indicator for these states has outpaced that of the nation since August.

The region's labor market continued its steady but slow recovery, led by stronger job growth in the leisure and hospitality, education and health care, and business services sectors. Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana reported unemployment rates below the U.S. average, which was 7 percent in November, while the remaining three states reported higher jobless rates.

Manufacturing, housing improves
The region's manufacturing activity expanded in November, according to the Southeast Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) produced by Kennesaw State University. Florida's component of the index, at 60, was well above the regional reading of 52.2, while other states' components were roughly equal to or lower than the regional number.

The Data Digest also included results from the Atlanta Fed's November Construction and Real Estate Survey, which pointed to continued improvement in housing markets. Although residential brokers and buyers reported that sales were ahead of year-earlier levels, brokers also noted a continued slowdown in sales. About half of brokers reported slower buyer traffic in November while slightly more builders than in the previous month's survey indicated the same. A number of comments attributed the slowdown to seasonal causes, the Digest noted.

To read more about the Southeast economy, see the full Data Digest.