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Beige Book: Labor Conditions Soft

July 28 2011

Labor market conditions remained soft in most Federal Reserve Districts, especially among temporary hiring agencies, while the pace of economic growth has moderated, according to the new Federal Reserve Beige Book report released Wednesday.

Some districts reported modest hiring increases, often within specific sectors. The Boston district saw some hiring in advertising, while the Cleveland District noted hiring in manufacturing. Small gains were also noted in the St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas Districts. The New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago Districts reported a slowdown in the pace of hiring activity. A staffing firm in the Chicago District reported a decline in billable hours.

Wage pressures continued to be subdued for all but a few specific occupations in some districts. Boston contacts reported wage growth between 3 percent and 5 percent in consulting and advertising. Kansas City reported labor shortages and wage pressures in retail as well as high-tech, energy, and transportation sectors. San Francisco reported continued wage pressures for specialized information technology workers.

Six Atlantic districts reported a slowdown in economic activity since the June 8 Beige Book report; activity changed little in the Atlanta District and was unchanged or slightly improved in the Richmond District. Of the other six Districts, political and weather-related disruptions temporarily slowed growth in Minneapolis, and growth in Dallas slowed to a moderate pace. The remaining four Districts continued to grow modestly.

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