Beige Book – January 16, 2019

[12th District] Conditions in the labor market remained tight. Contacts reported that worker shortages persisted across industries and skill levels. Nonetheless, several contacts reported an uptick in the pace of hiring. A major shipping and logistics business in Northern California hired more seasonal workers than usual in response to strong holiday demand. In the restaurant industry, a contact in the Pacific Northwest observed rising employment levels, while contacts in the Mountain West and Southern California noted intense worker shortages that led one chain to cancel plans to open additional locations. A contact in the California banking industry increased employment as warranted by business demand but noted that future hiring plans would be sensitive to developments in the broader economy.

Wage growth continued to increase moderately. Contacts across the District observed intense compensation pressures for more highly skilled workers. Employers with vacancies in the information technology, cybersecurity, and management fields continued to boost starting salaries to attract qualified candidates. Wages for lower-skilled workers also rose moderately, due to brisk competition and, in some cases, in reaction to imminent minimum wage increases in the new year. A Southern California contact in the business services sector reported that training costs also increased as positions turned over more frequently given the tight job market.

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