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Link in to Lincoln: September Update on the South

As 2013 heads into the fall season, the South continues to see improved commercial real estate sectors, increasing manufacturing activity and a recovering job market.

Industrial vacancy rates in three of the region’s major metros – Atlanta, Orlando and South Florida – remain in steady declines. At 7.1 percent, South Florida has the lowest vacancy rate of the three areas, but both Atlanta and Orlando have experienced drops of nearly one percentage point since last autumn. The industrial vacancy rates in Atlanta and Orlando currently stand at 11.9 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) topped 50 for the eighth month in a row in August. The index measures the strength of the manufacturing industry in the area covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. A score above 50 means the sector is expanding, while one below 50 indicates it’s contracting.

Finally, the South continues to add jobs. Although these increases are perhaps not taking place at the pace we would prefer, total employment in the six states that make up the Sixth Federal Reserve District – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee – has risen significantly (5.1 percent) during the recovery. For context, employment in those states dropped 8.5 percent during the Great Recession.

Generally speaking, the private sector in the Sixth District is recovering nicely, while “government is still acting as a drag on the region’s overall labor market recovery,” wrote Mike Chriszt, a vice president in the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s public affairs department.

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