December Data Digest: Southeast economy continues to show modest growth

Data and survey responses from the Atlanta Fed's regional business contacts indicate that, similar to recent months, the Southeast economy grew modestly in October.

The employment situation is still a drag on the region's economy, as meaningful job gains have yet to materialize. Indeed, some states have continued to shed jobs even through the recovery. Georgia, with an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, is one of them. However, the labor market recovery is a little further along in some states. For instance, most of Louisiana's metro areas have added jobs over the past 12 months; in Tennessee, total employment increased for the fourth consecutive month in October.

Given the jobs situation, perhaps it is no surprise that consumer confidence weakened in the Southeast throughout 2011. But despite flagging consumer sentiment, sales tax revenues have increased in most southeastern states on a year-over-year basis. The Atlanta Fed's monthly retail survey indicated an uptick in activity during October, including an increase in store traffic from the previous month. Respondents had a positive outlook for the next three months, with 41 percent of firms indicating that they expected holiday sales to outpace last year's.

The Data Digest is produced monthly by the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network (REIN) and includes state-by-state data and analysis on the Southeast economy. To read more about key sectors such as manufacturing, construction and real estate, and more, don't miss the Data Digest and business contact surveys, available online.