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Fed’s Beige Book: "Residential real estate contacts observed weakness"

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by Calculated Risk on 6/01/2022 02:08:00 PM

Fed’s Beige Book “This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia based on information collected on or before May 23, 2022.”

All twelve Federal Reserve Districts have reported continued economic growth since the prior Beige Book period, with a majority indicating slight or modest growth; four Districts indicated moderate growth. Four Districts explicitly noted that the pace of growth had slowed since the prior period. Contacts in most Districts reported ongoing growth in manufacturing. Retail contacts noted some softening as consumers faced higher prices, and residential real estate contacts observed weakness as buyers faced high prices and rising interest rates. Contacts tended to cite labor market difficulties as their greatest challenge, followed by supply chain disruptions. Rising interest rates, general inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and disruptions from COVID-19 cases (especially in the Northeast) round out the key concerns impacting household and business plans. Eight Districts reported that expectations of future growth among their contacts had diminished; contacts in three Districts specifically expressed concerns about a recession.

Most Districts reported that employment rose modestly or moderately in a labor market that all Districts described as tight. One District explicitly reported that the pace of job growth had slowed, but some firms in most of the coastal Districts noted hiring freezes or other signs that market tightness had begun to ease. However, worker shortages continued to force many firms to operate below capacity. In response, firms continued to deploy automation, offer greater job flexibility, and raise wages. In a majority of Districts, firms reported strong wage growth, whereas most others reported moderate growth. However, in a few Districts, firms noted that wage rate increases were leveling off or edging down. Moreover, while firms throughout the country generally anticipate wages to rise further over the next year, one District indicated that its firms’ expected rate of wage growth has fallen for two consecutive quarters.
emphasis added

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