Commercial and Public Construction Up in Most Districts

The national economy continued to expand during the survey period from October through mid-November but at a slower rate compared with the previous survey period, according to results from the Federal Reserve Bank’s Beige Book, an informal survey of businesses in the 12 federal districts, referred to by their headquarters cities. Among districts, seven reported a slower pace of economic activity while the rest revealed a modest increase or mixed conditions. A few districts reported emerging signs of declining demand for commercial space. However, construction of commercial and public buildings and infrastructure projects remained high in most districts, partly offsetting low residential building activity and helping to limit losses in overall construction employment.

In more residential news, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes reported declines through September for the United States as a whole, for 10 large metro areas, and for 15 of the 20 largest metro areas. “The third quarter decline, at 1.7%, was the largest quarterly decline in the index’s 21-year history,” says Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC. “The year-over-year decline posted its second consecutive record low at –4.5%. All 20 metro areas were in decline in September over August.

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