August REIN Report: Consumer Spending Shows Slight Improvement

The Southeastern economy, much like the national economy, saw mixed progress in July, according to the most recent report from the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network (REIN).

In July, the auto sector once again proved to be a bright spot in the Southeast economy, with production and sales in the region ahead of the national average. Vehicle production in the region jumped 76 percent from 2009's low levels, compared with the national average of 56 percent, while sales of vehicles assembled in the region through July increased 30 percent.

Consumer spending in July improved from last year's levels but remains tepid, the report noted. Sales tax collections for the region were up 1 percent year over year, and most states saw slight improvement in sales tax revenues. Meanwhile, tourism—an important component of consumer spending—felt the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. However, tourist destinations not affected by the spill, such as northeast Florida, Georgia, and the mountain resorts of Tennessee, have seen an increase in activity.

Although there were some encouraging signs in consumer spending, respondents to the Atlanta Fed's Retail Survey reported slower-than-expected activity in July. The outlook among retailers was divided: slightly less than half expect an increase in sales in coming months, while 40 percent forecast a decline.

For more data, analysis, and graphs on these and other important sectors of the Southeastern economy, read the full REIN report.