President Obama returned to Elkhart, Indiana, a town of about 50,000 near South Bend, and the site of his first major domestic trip as president in 2009. At the time of his first visit, the county’s unemployment rate had soared to almost 20%, and the Administration presented Elkhart as a symbol of the many communities suffering due to the recession. In yesterday’s town-hall event, President Obama touted the economic gains seen in the small county, and towns like it, where joblessness has dropped to about 4% (lower than the national average), the foreclosure rate has diminished, and manufacturing has picked up.
The Federal Reserve released its latest Beige Book, reporting modest economic growth since the last Beige Book. The Fed found that since the number of jobs and people available to work has been shrinking, labor markets are tightening, pushing wages up. Providing regional economic anecdotes from its 12 districts, the Beige Book was not a comprehensive data release, but provided some insight into the Fed’s outlook on consumer spending, the housing market, manufacturing, inflation and other key areas.