WASHINGTON (MNI) – The following is the second and final section of
the text of the Fifth District Beige Book summary of current economic
conditions, published Wednesday:


Tourist activity strengthened across the District since our last
report. Along the Districts coast, a contact in Myrtle Beach said that
visitations were up in recent weeks, compared to a year ago, with
slightly longer stays. Considerable increases in discretionary
expenditures also positively affected the retail and hospitality
sectors. However, reports from Baltimore, Washington, and Charleston,
S.C. indicated that, while tourism picked up, stays were shorter and
spending was lower than in the past. A manager from Virginia Beach also
stated that, even though hotel bookings were up, vacationers were
shortening their length of stay. A contact from Charleston, S.C.
mentioned that hotel occupancy was up substantially from a year ago,
although hotels were discounting to get people “in the door.” People
were often described as “taking staycations” — visiting nearby
attractions, such as theme parks, museums, and historical areas, rather
than taking vacations away from home. Contacts both along the seaboard
and at mountain resorts reported that bookings for the Labor Day weekend
were stronger than a year ago. Labor Markets. Reports on Fifth District
labor market activity was generally mixed in recent weeks. In service
sector labor markets, survey respondents said that hiring was flat at
services-providing firms, while retail job cuts were widespread.
However, survey respondents from most manufacturing industries indicated
continued mild expansion of employment and weekly production hours, but
average wages slowed. Several contacts at temporary employment agencies
reported generally stronger demand for temporary help since our last
report, particularly in manufacturing. For example, a contact at an
automotive plant told us that they had hired both additional full-time
employees and temporary labor. Increased demand for temporary workers
was reported by a wide array of service industries, including
professional services, life sciences, banking, health care, and


In many sections of the District, soaking rains helped to refresh
crops and improve pasture conditions. It was too late for corn, however,
and in some areas of Virginia farmers shifted drought-stricken corn
fields to cover crops and small grains. Analysts in Virginia reported
that the corn harvest had very poor yields. Elsewhere in Virginia,
flooding resulted in damage to silage corn, tobacco, vegetables, and
both standing and baled hay. In contrast, the corn harvest was ahead of
schedule in the Carolinas, although heavy showers hampered field work
for some growers in both states. In West Virginia, pasture conditions
ranged from very poor to excellent, but most fields were reported to be
in fair to poor condition. Also, cattle producers in Virginia continued
to cull herds due to reduced feed supplies. On a brighter note,
ninety-four percent of peaches had been harvested in South Carolina, and
the watermelon and cantaloupe harvest was nearing completion in that
state. In Maryland, the peach harvest was 80 percent completed and
apples were 20 percent harvested.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **