Western Economic Developments May 1996

May 1, 1996

Executive Summary

  • The Twelfth District continued on a solid economic growth path in the first quarter of 1996. As of March, District employment was 2.6 percent above its year-earlier level, and growth during the first quarter of 1996 was slightly above that pace.
  • California continued on a moderate growth path, as did Idaho, and the Washington economy is improving after a somewhat weak 1995. Rapid expansion continued in most of the remaining District states, with the exceptions of Hawaii and Alaska.
  • The semiconductor and computer manufacturing industries, along with related sectors, play an important role in the District economy. Despite the recent substantial slowdown in semiconductor sales, the prospects for these industries remain favorable.
  • During the first quarter of 1996, loan growth at a sample of large District banks accelerated compared to the last quarter of 1995, and growth in April was close to the first quarter pace. Accelerating real estate loan growth is offsetting slower business loan growth in several states, including California.