Economic activity in the Eighth District expanded modestly since our previous survey. Reports from manufacturing continued to be positive and contacts indicated that the services sector continued to grow. Reports from contacts in residential real estate markets were mixed; similarly, commercial real estate market conditions varied across the District. Total loans at a sample of small and mid-sized District banks increased slightly from mid-June to the end of August.
Real Estate and Construction
August year-to-date home sales were mixed throughout the Eighth District. Home sales increased 11 percent in Memphis and were relatively unchanged in Louisville compared with the same period in 2005. August year-to-date single-family housing permits were down in nearly every metro area. Compared with the same period last year, permits fell 34 percent in Louisville, 21 percent in greater St. Louis, 11 percent in Memphis, and 8 percent in Little Rock.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ample rainfall in much of the District since August slowed harvesting progress in some areas. The District's overall corn harvest is behind its average pace by 14 percent because of slower-than-normal paces in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky; the soybean harvest is behind by 20 percent because of slower-than-normal paces in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri.
UPS Is Hiring For The Holidays
Gearing up for the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas peak delivery period, UPS will hire 1,200 seasonal workers over the next few weeks -- 218 more than last year. The increase in seasonal hiring stems from the 700,000-square-foot heavy-freight hub that opened June 1 at Louisville International Airport.
About 1,000 people will be needed to work in the Worldport air-package sorting hub, outside on the ramps or in the freight operation. UPS also will hire 30 over-the-road truck drivers and 170 driver helpers to assist on local package routes.
Local Caterpillar Facility Will Close
Caterpillar Logistics Inc. plans to close its Louisville distribution center by early next year, putting 166 people out of work. The final closure date is slated for February of 2007. The company learned that it had lost its contract with wireless telephone company Sprint PCS in the spring and told Louisville workers in May that the center would eventually close.
Caterpillar Logistics, a subsidiary of the heavy equipment maker, provides warehousing and distribution services to dozens of large companies worldwide. In 2002, it bought the Louisville site from an Overland Park, Kan., company called Supply Chain Solutions Inc.
Governor’s Office for Economic Analysis