August brought mixed progress in retail sales, manufacturing

The Southeast economy continued to expand at a subdued pace in August, according to the latest Data Digest, a state-by-state report on the Southeast economy.

According to the report, which was released in October, the economic performance of much of the region mirrored that of the nation. With the exception of Louisiana, southeastern states had unemployment rates in August above the national rate of 9.1 percent. Unemployment rates were highest in Georgia and Florida, at 10.4 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively. Both states were hit especially hard by the housing crisis and deep job losses.

Sales tax revenue, an indicator of retail sales, was mixed across the Southeast. Tennessee benefited from gains in sales tax revenues, while other states experienced leveling off or declines. Responses to the Atlanta Fed's Retail Sales Survey were similarly mixed. Retailers reported that sales were up in August and that back-to-school sales were stronger than in the previous year, but store traffic was down.

Manufacturing activity in the region picked up in August as the Southeastern Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) accelerated for the first time in four months. Georgia and Florida's manufacturing components were slightly above the regional reading, while the remaining states were even or slightly below.

For more data and analysis on the Southeast economy, read the entire Data Digest online.