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Financial News: Beige Book Reveals Tighter Jobs Market, Pricing Pressures

Beige Book Reveals Tighter Jobs Market, Pricing Pressures

01/18/2017 - 14:10:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Economic growth continued at modest pace across most of the United States, but several districts report disappointing sales over holidays, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book said Wednesday.

In a sign of changing consumer habits, reports in more than one District suggested that growth in e-commerce had come at the expense of bricks-and-mortar retailers.

While retailers were mixed, manufacturers report increased sales, a turnaround from early 2016.

Pricing pressures "intensified somewhat", with eight out of twelve Districts noting modest price increases.

Meanwhile, "Labor markets were reported to be tight or tightening...District reports cited widespread difficulties in finding workers for skilled positions," the Fed reported. "Many districts...expect labor markets to continue to tighten in 2017, with wage pressures likely to rise and the pace of hiring to hold steady or increase."

That's in keeping with today's inflation data from the government, which said consumer prices jumped 2.1 percent in 2016, the fastest since 2011, and in line with the Fed's 2 percent target that may inspire another rate hike.

To compile the Beige Book, the central bank talks to "key business contacts, economists, market experts and other sources" outside the Federal Reserve System. Although anecdotal in nature, the Beige Book will be considered in the Fed's upcoming deliberations on monetary policy.

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