Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regional Economic Report Mixed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regional Economic Report Mixed

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

Economic conditions in the Southeast, including Jacksonville, were "mixed" at the end of 2001 and beginning of 2002, according to to the Federal Reserve Board.

In its latest Beige Book survey, issued last week, the nation's central bank reported that the Southeastern economy posted "mediocre" retail sales, "solid" residential real estate conditions, and "weak" commercial real estate markets and manufacturing sectors.

Travel activity improved, however, from the lows following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

While the Fed's report wasn't overly encouraging, it sounded better than the reports in 2001 that characterized the Southeast economy throughout the year as "tepid," "subdued," "sluggish" and "weak," as well as "significantly affected" by the attacks.

The Fed issues its Beige Book report, named for the cover's color, several times a year. The Fed reports about national conditions as well as what's taking place among its 12 districts. The Atlanta district comprises Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

For the Atlanta district in December and early January, the Fed found the following conditions.

-- Consumer spending: Deep discounting was widespread during the holidays. Sales results were mixed, but discounters fared better than others. Sales were generally strong for home electronics and home-related products. Post-holiday sales were down, but the Fed reported that there was less clearance merchandise available.

-- Real estate and construction: Single-family home markets performed well as the demand for low- to mid-priced homes was strong. Demand for high-priced housing was soft in several markets. Commercial real estate markets remained weak in most areas, and construction levels slowed considerably. …

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