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Link in to Lincoln: February Update on the South


In an Atlanta Fed survey of employers of all sizes, just more than 46 percent of the respondents said they expected to increase the size of their payrolls in 2014. That’s a slight increase from similar surveys conducted in early 2013 and 2012. Just less than 10 percent said they intended to decrease payrolls this year, down from 12.5 percent and 10.2 percent in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Among the reasons cited by firms for increasing their number of employees this year: an expected growth in sales, a lack of needed skills among current staffers and the current staff being overworked.

An Atlanta Fed survey of construction contractors in fourth-quarter 2013 also presents an optimistic picture. Forty-one percent of the respondents said their commercial construction activity is “up significantly” when compared with one year earlier. In a fourth-quarter 2012 poll, only 20 percent of those surveyed gave the same response.

Furthermore, no one in the most recent poll said their amount of commercial construction had declined, whereas in the fourth-quarter 2012 survey, 20 percent said it was “down slightly” from one year earlier and 7 percent said it was “down significantly.”

Meanwhile, the industrial vacancy rates in three of the Southeast’s most important markets – Atlanta, Orlando and South Florida – continue to reflect the quickening pace of business in the region and the improving economic picture. The rates in all three markets dropped steadily throughout 2013. At year’s end, South Florida had the lowest vacancy rate at 6.9 percent. Atlanta had the highest rate at 11.2 percent, but the metro area also experienced the steepest rate dip (0.9 of a percentage point) of the three areas.

These trends are illuminated in more detail in the three infographics below.