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Are Capital Expenditures Getting Too Expensive?
Capital expenditure (CapEx) is business spending used to acquire, improve, and maintain physical assets, such as buildings and machinery. These projects often require extensive planning because once in motion, they tend to be expensive, drawn out, and costly to stop. As such, a firm's willingness to undertake capital expenditures can be indicative of its future economic outlook. For example, a retail business may be less likely to invest in opening a new storefront if it's pessimistic about future demand for its product. In our monthly Fifth District surveys, we regularly ask firms if they ...
The Fifth District Labor Market: Normalization or the Beginning of a Slowdown?
The U.S. labor market continues to surprise economists and forecasters with its resilience. In 2023, employers have added more than 300,000 jobs per month on average, and that's after adding around 500,000 jobs per month on average throughout 2021 and 2022. The unemployment rate is persistently low, and the job postings rate remains extremely high. There are, however, some signs of slowing. In addition to job postings falling from its peak, the pace of job and wage growth has slowed.Reports from employers in the Fifth Federal Reserve District have been similarly strong, but with signs of ...
What Do Softened Business Expectations Mean for Hiring?
n October, we saw a downturn in our Fifth District indexes for expected demand and business conditions over the next six months, especially in the service sector. Employment expectations over the same period, however, remained largely unchanged. This month, firms' six-month expectations for demand and business conditions remained soft, and near-term employment expectations remained steady.Every November, we ask firms for their employment outlook over a longer time horizon: the next 12 months. Longer-run employment expectations also appeared to remain positive. Compared to last year, a similar ...
Are Recession Fears Replacing Supply Chain Challenges? Evidence from Fifth District Business Surveys
The last year and a half have been fraught with persistent supply chain challenges, the highest rate of inflation since the 1980s, and record levels of job openings and quits. As such, it is not surprising that in the Richmond Fed's May monthly business surveys, the top three concerns across all Fifth District firms surveyed were inflation, supply chain disruptions, and availability of labor. This was corroborated by national data collected as part of the second quarter release of the Richmond Fed's CFO Survey.
The State of Hiring in the Fifth District
The past two years have been marked by a historically tight labor market in which many firms have had difficulty hiring and retaining workers who possess the necessary skill sets. In a recent post, we explored evidence from our business surveys that suggests that the labor market may be cooling somewhat. Our employment and availability of skills indexes have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and our estimates of wage growth have come down from their 2022 peak. Nonetheless, wage growth estimates remain above pre-pandemic levels, and data from our August surveys suggests that many firms are ...