From the Federal Reserve:
Second District–New York
Growth in the Second District’s economy has picked up somewhat since the last report. Labor market conditions have been stable to slightly stronger in recent weeks, and a sizable number of contacts say they plan to add workers in the months ahead. While consumer prices generally remain steady, business contacts in a number of industries indicate rising cost pressures. Manufacturers report steady improvement in business conditions. Most retailers and auto dealers describe sales as steady but strong in February and the first few weeks of March. Tourism activity has been mixed but generally strong since the last report, with bookings for the months ahead described as robust. Home sales activity has continued to strengthen since the last report, though prices have been steady to somewhat lower; rental markets have continued to improve, and there has been a pickup in rental multi-family construction. Commercial real estate markets remained steady in the first quarter of 2012. Finally, bankers report increased loan demand, no change in credit standards, and the most widespread declines in delinquency rates in a number of years.
Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets across much of the District appear to have picked up since the last report, while rental markets continue to firm. Home sales are reported to be on the upswing in northern New Jersey, though prices are steady to declining, largely due to more distressed properties coming to market. One industry expert notes surprising strength in new multi-family construction in New Jersey–almost entirely rental units–thus far in 2012; this segment now accounts for well over 50 percent of all new homebuilding, which is said to be unprecedented. Apartment rental markets in both New York City and northern New Jersey continue to firm, with inventories tight and rents rising steadily. A major New York City appraisal firm notes that Manhattan’s co-op and condo market has firmed since mid-February: while prices remain flat, sales have picked up–especially for studio and 1-bedroom co-ops–and new contract activity is estimated to be running 7 percent ahead of a year earlier. Conditions in the outer boroughs have been somewhat softer. Real estate contacts in western New York State report continued gradual improvement in home sales activity but note some downward pressure on prices.