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Regional Research

Louisville Regional Economic Briefing

An overview of national and regional economic conditions, plus and an overview of River Ridge Commerce Center

Last updated: 03-29-2021

SPECIAL SURVEY: The Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses in the Eighth District

Overall the Survey finds that firms continue to report declines in demand, while overall employment has increased. This suggests the rate of businesses reopening may be faster than the rate of customers coming back to stores.

Last updated: 06-18-2020

As More States Legalize Marijuana, Economics Comes into Play

More states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, and this movement has created a patchwork of laws and policies on how the drug is treated.

Last updated: 05-18-2020

Eighth District Beige Book Update

Economic conditions have weakened moderately since the previous report. Around half of firms are closed temporarily. Among the firms that are closed, about one-third expect to reopen in the next 3 weeks. Banks indicated a sharp increase in delinquencies, primarily in mortgages, credit cards, and auto loans, but expect fewer delinquencies in the third quarter.

Last updated: 05-27-2020

Trends in Startups’ Share of Jobs

Despite their small size, startups have traditionally been a key source of jobs. Has their role changed in recent years?

Last updated: 03-18-2020

The State of COVID-19 around the Eighth District

What have COVID-19 trends in cases and deaths looked like in the largest MSAs in the District?

Last updated: 05-07-2020

The Efficacy of Enhanced Unemployment Benefits during a Pandemic

Providing more generous unemployment insurance benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers can be an efficient, targeted means to help offset their loss of income.

Last updated: 03-28-2020

Memphis Economic Overview

The U.S. outlook provides a solid baseline forecast for Memphis, with likely slower growth in the region, in part due to industry mix.

Last updated: 01-15-2020

The Role of Industry Mix in Regional Business Cycles

The business cycles of individual U.S. states can diverge from the national cycle. Industry mix within those states can help explain why this may happen. Understanding how differences in industry composition affect regional business cycles may help local leaders better tailor their policies to downturns and expansions.

Last updated: 01-03-2020

Shifting Dynamics in Eighth District Cities

The St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability took an in-depth look at four Eighth District cities (St. Louis, Little Rock, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn.) to explore how dynamics are shifting.

Last updated: 01-03-2020

Debt Developments in the Eighth District during First Half of 2019

Inflation-adjusted debt levels in the U.S. and Eighth District nearly returned to their Great Recession peaks over the first half of 2019. Student debt generally grew faster than any other debt category. Among the District’s four largest metro areas, the delinquency rates of student loans and auto debt are historically high.

Last updated: 12-16-2019

Working from Home: More Americans Are Telecommuting

The share of Americans who telecommute home has risen in recent decades and the share of telecommuting workers differs among cities. Surprisingly, a telecommuter drove more miles annually than the average worker who has to travel to a workplace.

Last updated: 10-10-2019

San Jose and Austin-Round Rock are the fastest growing metro areas

The St. Louis Fed released its economic conditions indexes through second quarter of 2019 for the 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the U.S.

Last updated: 10-10-2019

Moving In, Moving Out: The Migration Pattern of the Eighth District

From 2013 to 2017, migration helped some metro areas in the Eighth District, but its overall effect on the population of the District states was relatively small. During that time, the educational attainment and income of people moving into the District states were slightly lower than those of people leaving.

Last updated: 09-23-2019

A Checkerboard, Not a Melting Pot: Racial and Educational Diversity in the Eighth District

A look at racial and educational diversity in the Eighth Federal Reserve District.

Last updated: 07-19-2019

What Is Driving Student Debt in the Eighth District?

Concerns about student loan debt have grown as students incur greater burdens and take longer to repay this debt. In the Eighth District, tuition is a more important driver of student debt than non-tuition costs.

Last updated: 07-16-2019

Industry Mix May Help Explain Urban-Rural Divide in Economic Growth

Data suggest that rural areas have been growing more slowly because of greater exposure to the government sector and lower exposure to the private service-providing sector.

Last updated: 06-21-2019

Why Is the St. Louis Metro Area Population Growing So Slowly?

The St. Louis MSA has grown at a rate less than half the rate forecasted by this model. This shortfall is not driven by unexpectedly slower net birth rates, but faster-than-expected migration out of the region.

Last updated: 06-07-2019

Crop Prices and Flooding: Will 2019 Be a Repeat of 1993?

How might the current flood's effects on crop prices compare with the effects from the Great Flood of 1993?

Last updated: 06-06-2019

Slowing U.S. Housing Sector Still Shaped by Great Recession

The U.S. housing market has rebounded from the Great Recession, though the lingering effects of the downturn can still be seen. Declining affordability, higher mortgage rates, higher construction costs and declines in equity prices slowed the U.S. and District housing markets in 2018.

Last updated: 04-12-2019

Debt Levels Continue to Grow in Eighth District’s Key Metro Areas

For the largest metro areas in the Eighth District, the growth rate of mortgage and auto debt picked up in the third quarter of 2018.

Last updated: 04-12-2019

Data revisions indicate weaker regional employment growth

With its March release of state and local employment data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided a benchmark revision to monthly nonfarm payroll employment data released over the past 18 months. 

Last updated: 03-18-2019

Expect St. Louis and Missouri Construction Employment Declines To Be Revised Away

Economic conditions in local construction are not as dire as they might appear. As we have written about in previous articles, regional data are subject to substantial but predictable revisions.

Last updated: 12-28-2018

Measuring Levels of Debt in the Eighth District’s Key Metro Areas

Debt growth slowed in both the U.S. and the Eighth District from the first quarter of 2018 to the second. Overall, the data do not seem to indicate that a severe debt problem may be brewing.

Last updated: 01-02-2019

Bourbon and Whiskey Distillers Face Rosy Tourism, Vexing Tariffs

Bourbon and other American whiskeys have become targets of retaliatory tariffs amid global trade disputes. Tourism related to whiskey has provided another way to tap growth from regional distilleries.

Last updated: 11-29-2018

How Tight Is the Eighth District Labor Market?

Unemployment gives us a measure of labor supply in the economy. However, this is only one side of the labor market.

Last updated: 11-12-2018

Soybeans, the Eighth District’s No. 1 Crop, Caught in Trade Tussle

U.S. and regional farmers face uncertainty after China, the world’s biggest importer of soybeans, imposed a tariff on U.S. soybean imports. While the result of the tariff is difficult to predict, economic models indicate a negative impact for both the U.S. and China.

Last updated: 09-10-2018

What Are Teachers Really Paid? Adjusting Wages for Regional Differences in Cost of Living

Strikes by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, and Colorado have highlighted differences in teachers' wages across the country. Teachers in these states have lower-than-average annual wages but also lower-than-average cost of living (COL). Adjusting for differences in COL narrows the differences in teachers' wages across the country, but substantial differences remain.

Last updated: 09-07-2018

60% of District's Jobs Could Face Automation in the Next 20 Years

Automation is occurring more in service and manufacturing positions. It is one factor that contributes to the disappearance of middle-income, routine-task jobs in the U.S. Automation will have the greatest impact on smaller MSAs in the District due to a high concentration of employment in sales and production occupations.

Last updated: 08-13-2018

Agricultural Finance Monitor Update

The latest survey shows the majority of agricultural bankers expect farm income to decline next quarter, just as it did in this second quarter report. Quality farmland values also fell in the most recent survey. There was a slight improvement in cash rents compared to a year ago.

Last updated: 08-13-2018

Gauging Debt Levels in the U.S. and Eighth District

In real terms, debt isn’t at a new high. And the recent increase has been modest compared with the debt run-up before the Great Recession. Though the rate of serious delinquency is rising in both the U.S. and Eighth District, the increase doesn’t appear to be troublesome.

Last updated: 06-26-2018

St. Louis Regional Economic Briefing: Global Trade, Local Effects

An overview of national and regional economic conditions, plus a panel on international trade

Last updated: 06-20-2018

St. Louis Fed Steps in to Provide More-Timely Jobs Data

Bureau of Labor Statistics revises state and local employment data just once a year. The St. Louis Fed analyzes the data and reports on it four times a year. This extra reporting can take the surprise out of a once-a-year revision.

Last updated: 06-01-2018

Income and Living Standards within the Eighth District

The paycheck itself doesn’t provide a complete picture of one’s lifestyle since cost of living can vary geographically. Regional price parity indexes can measure differences in the cost of living across regions. The District’s cost of living is about 15 percent below the national average, though this level varies among its counties.

Last updated: 04-04-2018

Warning: Don’t Infer Regional Inflation Differences from House Price Changes

House price growth is not an accurate predictor of regional inflation.

Last updated: 03-26-2018

Health Care Remains Important Job Engine in Eighth District

Did You Know?

While the output share is relatively small, health care comprises about 22 percent of household spending, up from 10 percent in the 1970s.  

The health care sector has generated about 30 percent of new jobs nationally since 2007 and 50 percent of new jobs in the Eighth District.

Not all jobs in health care have high wages. One-third of workers are in health care support occupations that pay below the average wage.

Last updated: 03-01-2018

Little Rock vs. Louisville vs. Memphis vs. St Louis… FRED Blog maps the economic growth of 68 MSAs

The St. Louis Fed has updated its estimates of economic growth through the third quarter of 2017 for 68 of the U.S.’s most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Average growth across these MSAs was 2.7 percent. Among the District MSAs, growth was fastest in Louisville at 4.3 percent, followed by Little Rock at 3.3 percent, Memphis at 2.2 percent, and St. Louis at 1.9 percent.

Last updated: 01-18-2018

Employment Growth in the Eighth District Appears Weaker Than Currently Reported

Employment growth across the Eighth District appears to be weaker than currently reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), according to our latest estimates.

Last updated: 12-28-2017

A City’s Income Affects Its Growth

Metro Area real income in the early 1970s influenced population growth.

Last updated: 12-20-2017

First-Time Homebuyers Appear to Be Younger, Less Creditworthy in Eighth District

First-time homebuyers are essential to the dynamics of the housing market by allowing current homeowners to trade up. The number of first-time homebuyers decreased between 2000 and 2011 and then started slowly increasing again.

Last updated: 12-15-2017

Advanced Manufacturing Is Vital across Nation, Including Eighth District

As technological progress continues to alter the landscape of the economy, a subset of manufacturing industries known as “advanced manufacturing” serves as a critical source of growth as these products drive productivity gains throughout the economy.

Last updated: 12-15-2017

Regional Economic Briefing in Memphis

The St. Louis Fed hosted its annual Regional Economic Briefing in Memphis, Tennessee. This year's event featured a national economic outlook and focus on the role of startups, STEM jobs, and the technology sector in reshaping the regional economy.

Last updated: 10-23-2017

Living Standards in St. Louis and the Eighth Federal Reserve District: Let’s Get Real

Despite slow economic growth recently, living standards are relatively high in the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area (MSA). For example, the St. Louis MSA ranks in the top 6 percent of MSAs based on real per capita personal income and in the top 16 percent based on real median household income.

Last updated: 10-05-2017

How Precise Are Local Unemployment Rates?

Many gauge the health of local labor markets based on the difference between the local and national unemployment rates. What is often overlooked is that these rates, statistically speaking, often could be the same.

Last updated: 09-28-2017

The Evolution of St. Louis’s Wage Distribution

Rebecca Cowin and Charles Gascon found there is less wage inequality in the St. Louis MSA than in the nation.

Last updated: 09-26-2017

Real Gross Domestic Product by Metro Area Released

2016 real gross domestic product (GDP) data for the 382 metro areas in the United States was released last week. Real GDP increased in 14 of the 20 metro areas in the Eighth Federal Reserve District.

Last updated: 09-22-2017

Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Manufacturing Sector: A National and Local Perspective.

The St. Louis Fed hosted our annual Regional Economic Briefing.  This year's event was titled Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Manufacturing Sector: A National and Local Perspective.

Last updated: 09-07-2017

District Overview: Startups Create Many Jobs, but They Often Don't Last

Millions of jobs have been created since the previous recession ended. From 2011 to 2014 alone, the U.S. economy added about 2.5 million jobs per year. Much of this job growth has come from the formation of new businesses (i.e., startups) and their initial growth. We look closely at how firms of different ages contributed to the net growth in jobs between 2011 and 2014—on the national level and within the four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the Eighth District: St. Louis, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; and Memphis, Tennessee.

Last updated: 08-30-2017

Eighth District Dashboards

Find out where to get the latest economic data on the Eighth District states and metro areas.

Last updated: 09-08-2017

Coal's Future Looks Uncertain as Rival Fuels Grow

The outlook for coal, which once was the dominant fuel for electricity generation, is waning. This article analyzes the coal industry both nationally and within our region (the states that make up the Eighth Federal Reserve District) and ponders its future as a source of both electricity and jobs.

Last updated: 08-30-2017

Who'd Be Most Affected by a Local Minimum Wage?

Charles Gascon and James D. Eubanks examined the impact of a citywide minimum wage and found that it would affect residents across the income spectrum and throughout the entire metropolitan area.

How the Cost of Living Differs Across States and Cities

Regional price parities show higher costs and lower purchasing power on the coasts.

How Is Employment Really Faring in the Eighth District?

Current estimates indicate that employment in the state of Missouri grew at a brisk annualized rate of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 before slowing down during the first five months of 2017.

Growth in Tech Sector Returns to Glory Days

Over the past 25 years, the U.S. economy has undergone a profound technological revolution, characterized as a “palpable historic change” by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Will the Gender Pay Gap Keep Shrinking?

In the past 30 years, we’ve seen the gender earnings gap narrow 17 percentage points. Do the trends indicate it will take another 30 years for the gap to shrink another 17 percentage points?

Is a Bubble Brewing in the Multifamily Housing Market?

Of all major commercial real estate categories, the multifamily market has strengthened the most since the past recession. Is a bubble brewing? And how does the Eighth Federal Reserve District compare with the nation?

Why Are More Young Adults Still Living at Home?

Nationally, nearly half of 25-year-olds lived with their parents in 2012-2013, up from just over a quarter in 1999. A recent article in The Regional Economist examined statistics and reviewed some of the literature on millennials moving back home.

Quarterly Debt Monitor Update

U.S. real per capita auto debt continued to rise in the last three months of 2016, although at a slower pace. Meanwhile, consumers faced greater difficulties in repaying car loans, according to the latest issue of The Quarterly Debt Monitor.

The Growing Skill Divide in the U.S. Labor Market

Maximiliano Dvorkin and Hannah Shell examine the dynamics of job polarization in the Eighth District and compare them with national trends.

March Means Employment Data Revisions

Why are St. Louis employment numbers revised every March?

Housing Market Conditions Update

See this quarter’s overview of housing market conditions in each of the seven states that comprise the Federal Reserve's Eighth District and the metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) of Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, and St. Louis.