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Beige Book: Labor Market Holds Steady

September 08 2011

Labor market conditions held steady in most Federal Reserve districts, while some reported modest employment growth, according to the latest Federal Reserve Beige Book report, released Wednesday.

Several districts reported a shortage of skilled workers such as engineers, mechanics and software developers. Jobs in the healthcare industry continued to rise, and the Cleveland, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas districts indicated growth in energy-related employment.

Many districts reported an increase in auto sales and service technician positions, and the Minneapolis district is seeing new manufacturing jobs. Many companies in the Atlanta district are focused on productivity and efficiency increases with existing staff, and in the Richmond, Va., district, one company noted that it would rather pay overtime than hire new workers.

A large staffing firm in Chicago reported a decline in billable hours for staffing and professional services as well as fewer permanent placements, while firms in Boston noted demand for permanent and temporary-to-permanent hiring continued to grow.

Most districts reported that wage pressures were minimal, but there were some wage gains for several skilled positions because of increased demand.

Economic activity expanded moderately overall, though some districts reported mixed activity. Several districts also indicated that recent stock market volatility and increased economic uncertainty has led many contacts to downgrade their near-term outlooks.

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