The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank says that its region's economy is gradually getting better, but that jobs reports have been mixed in the past couple of months. The latest Beige Book report describes economic growth in the region as "modest," the same adjective that was used in an April report.
The real estate market has improved slightly since late April, the report says:
Residential real estate market conditions have improved moderately. Similarly, commercial real estate market conditions have also improved.
The retail outlook also brightened a little, with 60 percent of retailers reporting better sales in April and early May and 56 percent predicting higher sales this summer. Car dealers were even more upbeat: 64 percent had higher sales this spring, and 80 percent were optimistic about June and July sales.
The jobs picture is mixed, however. In manufacturing, the report says,
Several manufacturers reported plans to open plants and hire workers, while a similar number of contacts reported plans to close plants and lay off workers in the near future.
Similarly, in the service sector, the Fed mentions layoffs in the travel industry along with a software firm that's hiring. Bank credit officers told the St. Louis Fed that demand for commercial loans "was moderately stronger."
The St. Louis Fed's district covers eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, all of Arkansas and parts of Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. The Beige Book report is based on an unscientific survey of business people in the region.