"By Sara Murray
The Federal Reserve’s beige book, released today, is more optimistic than last month despite the majority of districts reporting a weak economy. Here are some of the highlights and oddities from the districts:
- It’s no surprise that luxury goods aren’t faring well and fast-food is. But for some reason consumer electronics are also on the hot list in the Chicago District, whereas in the Kansas City District they were among the worst-sellers.
- At very least you’d expect bankruptcy lawyers to be prospering in this environment. But that’s not the case in the Dallas District. “While demand for bankruptcy-related services has increased slightly since last Beige Book, it has not yet increased as much as contacts expected at this point in the recession. According to contacts, if litigation and bankruptcy don’t pick up as they normally do, ‘it’s going to be ugly.’”
- New Yorkers are abandoning Broadway theaters, mostly. Attendance was up, unseasonably, between February and March but still down 16% compared to last year. And ticket prices haven’t dropped leading total revenues to fall 15% from a year ago.
- On the upside (for renters), renting an apartment in Manhattan is 5%-6% cheaper than a year ago. And if you factor in all the other goodies that are being thrown in – nixing rental fees, offering a couple months free – “rents have reportedly fallen much more sharply—especially in full-service buildings.” Meantime, “The inventory of rental listings has continued to increase, particularly in non-doorman buildings.” And apparently Brooklyn’s even worse off.
- Turns out the ski season was pretty prosperous in in Virginia and West Virginia, which both did as well as last year. Summer trips are different beast though. Pricey destinations like Hawaii, California and Nevada are experiencing a slump and in exchange travelers seem to be flocking to drive-to destinations like theme parks. Another beneficiary: cruise lines. They “experienced strong bookings as a result of heavy discounting and promotional incentives,” the report states.
- We’ve said it before and now we’ll say it again: it’s tough to get a job — anywhere. “The manufacturing and energy extraction sectors were the most affected but there were numerous reports of job cuts in the retail and services industries as well,” according to the report.
- And when you do find a job opening the competition is fierce. From the San Francisco District, “Unemployment rose further, and companies with open positions reported significant increases in the quantity and quality of job applicants, further reducing upward pressures on wages.”