What is the Federal Reserve Beige Book?
The Federal Reserve Beige Book serves as a snapshot of economic conditions across the twelve U.S. districts and is released eight times each year. Each Federal Reserve Bank compiles “anecdotal information on current economic conditions in each respective district,” and the compilation is then made available to the public.
This distillation of market conditions can be extremely valuable for business decision makers as rarely does this information all exist in one place. Having the ability to both drill down in to conditions in specific regions, as well as expand to a high level view and look at the national landscape overall, is a huge benefit for business owners. This makes it easier to compare industry performance across regions and help decision makers decide if their numbers are sufficient or lacking.
Hiccups in reporting
Since the previous report released in April, the Federal Reserve notes that “overall economic activity increased at a moderate to modest pace.” The sequester has caused a few delays in Richmond’s manufacturing industry and there is a reported high demand for home builders. A few regions also noted concerns on increasing hiring as costs related to health care reform have gone up.
This decision also stems from the fact that some industries, including engineering and manufacturing, reported a lack of skilled workers to fill staffing needs. In 2012, the monthly average of jobs created was 173,000, which dropped to a 158,000 jobs created this past May. With the unemployment rate still holding steady at 7.5 percent, and more people deciding to no longer actively seek employment, the Beige Book June report doesn’t show a substantially improved outlook.
Although the outlook may not be as optimistic as hoped, it is still a great resource for business decision makers that need a comprehensive look at the numbers across the board. The Beige Book provides a periodic status check that businesses can use to monitor their own performance and that of competitors in similar regions.
The Beige Book can be found on the Federal Reserve website.