The Indicator from Planet Money - The Beigies: Some Economic Bright Spots

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book focuses on stories from the economy. The latest edition shows some hopeful points of light in an otherwise gloomy economic landscape. | Support The Indicator here.

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everyone just before we start our show. We have something to ask you in order to continue providing coverage of the US economy and other events throughout the country in this extraordinary year. If you continue keeping up with how workers and other regular folks are doing we would still appreciate it. If you would donate to your local NPR member station at indicator. It would go a long way towards continuing to be able to provide the kind of Journalism that you expect from us. Thank you so much and happy holidays.

Everyone, it's Stacy and today. I am joined by the great Robert Smith of Planet Money. I have lured you to the indicator today with some pretty irresistible bait.

The beige book Facebook we need to explain this to people so eight times a year the Federal Reserve publishes a report about the economy called the summary of commentary on current economic conditions, which insiders like ask know as the beige book due to its cover which is beige and also its regular economic reports which are beautiful of graphs and charts and data. The beach book has no numbers instead. It has these little anecdote stories from around the country from small businesses from big businesses. For instance. Here's a classic line from the beige book a contact in Southern California noted a recent spike in demand for bicycles. We love you so much forever did a couple of years ago. We created a little award show for our favorite entries in the bass book. We called it the Bee Gees and since the Facebook came out this week. We thought we

We do it again. Now as you can imagine this particular beige book is somewhat painful. There's a lot of unemployment struggling businesses in the beige book.

Good news the signs that the economy starting to ramp up again. And so we thought it's time for another Vision Awards this time for our favorite bright spots or our favorite baseball tourney Academy right now. Yes lighter shades of beige. So Roberts when are you why don't you do the honors?

Wake up the BET Awards brought to you by the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Robert Smith our favorite moments from the beach book.

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Licensed counselor best suited to your mental health needs whether it's depression anxiety or trauma betterhelp will help you overcome with stand in the way of your happiness. Learn more at and get 10% off your first month with promo code indicator better help get help anytime anywhere Federal Reserve the Central Bank of the United States at this sort of big monolithic thing, but that is not true. The Federal Reserve is broken up into 12 distinct districts. There's the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which represents most of the West is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and put up the best stories from their districts. See what's going on in each other's districts and literally each district has a team even just one person who calls up a bunch of businesses on their cell phones and ask

I'm literally so what's up? What's happening in your world about the economy? And the latest Facebook. The last one of 2020 came out yesterday some interesting tidbits for instance laboratory spaces in Boston are hot right. Now that's vaccine nomics baby selling like hotcakes. There's a line in the beige book about the hot market for Pet Care all those pandemic puppies, you know, they need stuff. Most of the regions of the country was a boom in warehouse jobs, people need stuff people order stuff on the internet someone needs to box that up and get it to us. It is now sort of officially our national pastime.

And as a result, even though unemployment is still really high Across the Nation overall in the trucking warehousing and Logistics Industries. There was actually a shortage of workers wages are going up which brings us to the award. We pick our favorite anecdote from the beige book and bestow the coveted beige award to the Federal Reserve District with the keenest insight and this year that goes to a district the captured this hot labor market for warehouse workers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston into the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Everybody's tense. I'm about to cry and the baby she goes to

The Federal Reserve Bank of st. Louis

This is the st. Louis fed 3rd nomination, but first time winning the award.

Congratulation graduation. Thank you. I think hopefully that will justify my cell phone bill from all the coffee making over the last couple of months. So but that's that's great to hear trust Captain is an economist with the St. Louis fat. He is in charge of writing their award-winning entry in the bass. Book. What is going on with the two things that come up a lot are childcare issues and people managing what's going on at their homes with with what they need to do for work. This is particularly a challenge for people who actually have to go on site to do their work exactly for a lot of people is just a challenge that they've been basically got in their way through over the last last couple of months the line from the base book that really captured our hearts was this one quote expanding firms continue to note labor Supply shortfalls describing it to

Chris child care and health concerns one firm new employees and neighborhoods without adequate Transportation by expanding a bus system to and from its warehouses bus system to get Workers like they're they're like, we will bring you to work if you will just come work for us. And you know what? I think this is a great example of a time or like we hear about this over and over and over again, and it's finally like, okay. Yeah this we finally have like a really good story and a good understanding of this and we're going to know we have to put it in the report entry in the beach book talks about starting wages going up for warehouses and industrial workers. He didn't include a dollar figure though. So we called a warehouse staffing company in St. Louis. You may have seen the signs on the highway Robert now hiring in big letters and then it would say Warehouse manufacturing jobs with a phone number.

Text with an exit in St. Louis and he says the page book mailed. It workers was sick relatives or kids at home and zoom School having trouble showing up for normal shifts. So warehouses have to get creative to find more workers Transportation flexible shifts better benefits. And yes more money just specifically talks about the Amazon effect Amazon is hiring so many warehouse workers right now at significantly higher wages. If you're paying 11 $12 an hour to do the same work that someone can do over at Amazon for 15 you're going to struggle and we've seen that before in the past and is forced employers take a deep. Look at what their Pace boxes are for their employees of the companies. They talked with two thirds are raising wages. Charles Gaskin says a lot of workers, especially those who deal with the public their same job seemed riskier now during the pandemic and they want to be compensated for that risk.

Really? There are just so many great moments to choose from in this page book entry. So well-deserved St. Louis. Will Charles now that you've won a beige award. What are you going to do?

Oh, man, you putting me on the spot here, you know if it was econ questions, I knew wouldn't help can't have an answer prepared. I think I would just share with my team. I think you know, they've been making a lot of phone calls. Like I said and reading a lot of reports and putting things together and I think they'll be happy to see that it's been recognized. So I think it's you know, they deserve a lot of a lot of credit for all the all the music came up before I could think it's agent spell awkward. But Stacy it is past midnight on the East Coast. We need to hurry up and end this girl's page Awards mountain and Brittany Cronin or editor is Patty Hearst in the indicator the production of NPR
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