Goldilocks Beige Book? Are you serious?
Employment, Wages, Prices
Labor market conditions remained taut since our last report. The Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Minneapolis and Dallas reports characterized labor markets as generally tight, particularly for skilled workers, while the remaining Districts noted that job growth was steady to stronger. Six Districts mentioned labor shortages, particularly for professional, scientific, and other technical workers. In addition, Kansas City said retailers faced shortages of experienced sales workers and Atlanta indicated that residential construction firms were having difficulty obtaining qualified construction workers, despite the slowdown in building activity. In contrast, Cleveland reported that roughly half of the homebuilders they contacted had reduced their labor force.
Wage growth around the nation was generally modest, although faster wage growth for skilled services workers was cited by a number of Districts. The San Francisco District noted that a short supply of healthcare, finance and construction workers pushed wages higher. In addition, Richmond noted a sharp uptick in retail wages and Atlanta reported that some manufacturers had raised entry-level wages in an effort to attract workers.
Most Districts reported few signs of increased price pressures in recent weeks. A number of Districts said that energy prices moderated, but increases in raw materials prices were noted by Philadelphia, Richmond and Atlanta, and a rise in building materials prices was reported by Minneapolis. Instances of businesses passing on higher costs were scattered across Districts; Cleveland and Atlanta said some manufacturers attempted to raise output prices while Boston reported increases in retail prices. Boston also reported that costs for some businesses had increased--especially for airfare and hotel accommodations. Likewise, the New York District noted that accommodation and theatre ticket prices had risen sharply compared to a year ago.