Economic Growth Still Moderate; Domestic Oil Production Outpaces Imports; Tepid Job Growth

Economic activity is said to have increased at a “modest to moderate pace" this year. Domestic crude oil output surpassed imports last week. And private employers created 135,000 jobs in May, a relatively low total,

According to the latest Beige Book published by the Federal Reserve, which is formally called the “Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District,” economic activity increased at a “modest to moderate pace” since the previous report across all Federal Reserve Districts. Except, that is, the Dallas District – which includes all of Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana – where economic activity was reportedly “strong.”

Residential real estate and construction activity increased at a “moderate to strong pace” in all districts, according to the Beige Book. Several districts reported that higher demand and low inventory of homes available for sale are resulting in multiple offers on properties. Almost all districts reported higher home sale prices. 

As for commercial real estate, activity expanded at a “modest to moderate pace” in most districts, notes the Fed. The New York District reported that the Manhattan market is particularly robust. The Chicago District—which includes Chicago, but also most of the rest of Illinois, and parts of Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and all of Iowa–noted that an increase in demand for leasing was pushing up commercial rents, with strong demand from the health-care sector. 

Domestic Oil Production Outpaces Imports 

The U.S. Energy Information Agency reported on Wednesday that U.S. domestic crude oil output surpassed imports last week (the seven days ending May 31) for the first time since January 1997. Weekly crude oil imports has averaged about 9.2 million barrels a day over that last 16 years, surpassing domestic production by 3.5 million barrels a day on average, or by more than 60 percent. 

Moreover, the EIA predicts that U.S. crude oil output will continue to increase to as much as 1.3 million barrels a day by the end of next year, well over the amount that will be imported. Output from shale oil sources in North Dakota, as well as increased extraction from older oil fields in the oil patch, are driving the increase.

This sea change in the American oil market promises to affect the trade deficit – a long-standing component of U.S. deficit is oil – and impact major exporting countries. Less clear, however, is what will happen to domestic energy prices, especially gasoline, since prices are still mostly tied to the international price of oil, which is driven by a welter of factors, most beyond the U.S. (such as consumption patterns in China). 

ADP Finds Job Growth Tepid 

Automated Data Processed reported on Wednesday that private employers created 135,000 jobs in May, a relatively low total, though ADP’s forecast doesn’t always resemble the official numbers, which are due Friday. ADP said that business services added 42,000 positions, while trade, transportation and utilities added 31,000. Manufacturers lost 6,000 jobs.


Wall Street, apparently worried that the Fed is losing its appetite for stimulating the U.S. economy, took a dive on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 216.95 points, or 1.43 percent. The S&P 500 was off 1.38 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 1.27 percent.