Economic activity in the Twelfth District continued to expand at a moderate pace during the reporting period of mid-August through September. Overall price inflation was flat and remained low, while upward wage pressures strengthened somewhat, and labor market conditions tightened further. Sales of retail goods picked up, and growth in consumer and business services remained strong. Conditions in the manufacturing sector improved, while activity in the agriculture sector was flat. Contacts reported continued strong activity in residential real estate markets, and conditions in the commercial real estate sector remained solid. Lending activity grew at a moderate pace.
(Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco) Employment and Wages On balance, the labor market tightened further, and contacts reported continued moderate wage gains. In the technology, financial services, and health-care sectors, demand for skilled information technology (IT) labor remained strong, pushing up wages for those workers. Contacts in the hotel industry noted widespread strong upward wage pressure for all positions, with one contact reporting plans to raise workers' wages.
Recent changes in immigration policy created substantial labor supply shortages for low-skilled workers in the agriculture sector; as a consequence, some growers discarded portions of their harvest. Several contacts observed that applicants for some low-skilled positions did not meet the minimum job requirements or were unable to pass pre-employment screenings such as drug tests.
The labor market continued to tighten, and wage pressures picked up further. Contacts reported record-high demand, as well as wage increases, for engineers with experience in cloud computing. Contacts also noted that technology and non-technology sectors are increasingly competing for workers with the same advanced skills. In the financial services sector, wages for unskilled entry-level positions increased markedly. Labor shortages in the construction industry persisted, driving up wages for skilled workers. Demand for labor in the agriculture industry continued to outpace supply, putting upward pressure on wages. One contact noted that growers continue to automate production where possible. Contacts in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry reported relocating workers and operations to lower-cost locales outside of the District.