These are glimmers, admittedly. But the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report on current economic conditions shows some signs the economic turmoil -- in the Upper Midwest, at least -- may be bottoming out.
Each of the Fed banks around the country use the Beige Book report to share anecdotes about the economy. Among the interesting nuggets in the Minneapolis Fed report:
- A staffing company survey of businesses in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area showed that as many respondents plan to hire workers as plan to lay off workers between April and June. Considering where we've been and that Thursday's Minnesota unemployment report is likely to show jobless numbers up in March, I'll count the Fed anecdote as a positive.
- A Rochester, Minn. official told the Fed the area's large health care sector remained relatively solid and kept that region's unemployment rate lower than the state's.
- Prices were generally level. Minnesota gasoline prices at the end of March inched up about 10 cents a gallon since mid-February, but were $1.14 less than 2008.
So am I grabbing at straws? Maybe.
The report has lots of stuff in there confirming how bad things have been and still are. Still, if the unemployment rate tops out by June, prices stay stable and places like Rochester can show some strength, that bodes well for an upturn, if not a turnaround.
Just like the Fed, we're taking your insights on the economy these days. Tell us what the economy's like around you these days. We'll share those insights on our MinnEcon map project. Check out some responses below.