Ho-hum labor market conditions in Memphis

Labor market conditions in the Memphis area were a bit worse here than in the rest of the nation at the end of 2012.

That’s according to the most recent edition of the Memphis Burgundy Book, released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. From the Fed:

“Business contacts expect continued slow growth of employment in the first quarter of 2013, but stronger growth of average weekly earnings … In the Memphis MSA, nonfarm employment growth was fairly flat and the unemployment rate remained above the nation’s rate. Manufacturing conditions continued to improve, reflecting solid employment growth in Tennessee in the fourth quarter. Business contacts recently surveyed were relatively upbeat, reporting increases in new orders. As in most areas of the Eighth District, home building activity remained well above last year’s pace, shown by double-digit gains in single-family building permits. Also, in the Memphis MSA, new and existing home sales in the fourth quarter were well above the nation’s roughly 11 percent increase. At the same time, house prices across the zone were fairly flat, noticeably less than the nation’s 7.1 percent increase.”

The Memphis zone of the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District covers 21 counties in West Tennessee, 13 counties in eastern Arkansas and 39 counties in northern Mississippi. It represents a total population of close to 3.1 million people, including 1.3 million who live in the Memphis metro area.