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Racial dissimilarity in St Louis, Missouri

A tale of two counties

The FRED Blog frequently provides context to help tell the story behind the data. Today we need a bit of history as well to help clarify the names of the data series themselves.

In 1876, the city of St. Louis, Missouri, became its own county, separating its local government affairs from the rest of St. Louis County, Missouri. Since then, the U.S. Census has tallied population statistics across subdivisions, or tracts, of these two separate counties with very similar names.

The FRED graph above shows the racial dissimilarity index for St. Louis City (in blue) and St. Louis County (in red). The Census reports the index as a percent of the non-Hispanic White population that would have to move from one census tract in a county to another census tract in the same county to achieve an even distribution of racial groups across that county.

Consider 2009, when the first data in the series are available: At that time, about two out of every three non-Hispanic White residents in the city of St. Louis would have had to change where they lived for this specific type of racial dissimilarity to disappear within St. Louis City. Slightly more than half of the residents in St. Louis County would have had to do the same to eliminate this racial dissimilarity in that county.

Twelve years later, the population landscape has changed. Since 2020, in terms of their racial makeup, the tracts in St. Louis City are noticeably more like one another than the tracts in St. Louis County.

However, the overall racial makeup of these two similarly named neighboring counties is very different and should be taken into consideration when interpreting the data. To begin with, almost two out of every three County residents are non-Hispanic White. In the City, the ratio is almost one-to-one. The population trends are also different: Between 2010 and 2020, the city lost almost 6% of its residents, while the county added 5%.

So, at least two different population trends could be at play here. Perhaps, on average, neighborhoods in the City are becoming more racially integrated while neighborhoods in the County remain steadfastly less integrated. Or it could be that population loss of racial minorities in some City neighborhoods is making the overall racial distribution there more even. Of course, both trends can be at play here. An in-depth analysis of tract-level Census data is needed to come to a definite conclusion.

How this graph was created: In FRED, search for “White to Non-White Racial Dissimilarity (5-year estimate) Index for St. Louis city, MO.” Next, click “Edit Graph” at the top right corner and navigate to the “Add Line” tab. Search for “White to Non-White Racial Dissimilarity (5-year estimate) Index for St. Louis County, MO” and click on “Add data series.”

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

Are labor supply and labor demand out of balance?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell stated in November 2022 that “job openings exceed available workers by about 4 million.” That number currently stands at 4.7 million after continued strengthening of the labor market.

This mismatch between available jobs and workers to fill them has generated ongoing discussion, and the FRED graph above measures that mismatch in labor supply and demand: The civilian labor force, the amount of people working or looking for a job, is shown in red; the current employment level plus the number of job openings is shown in blue.

If the civilian labor force is greater than employment plus job openings, the economy has immediate capacity to fill open positions. Currently, the employment level plus job openings is at 170.5 million while the total civilian labor force is at 165.8 million. This is the gap of 4.7 million referred to above: that is, there are 4.7 million more jobs available than there are people available to fill them.

The pandemic has been emphasized as a cause of this acute labor shortage, but the trends in labor demand and labor supply in the graph above indicate that demand was already outpacing supply before the pandemic by about 1 million workers.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Job Openings” and select the right series. Click “Edit Graph,” search for “Employment levels,” then apply the formula a+b. Next, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and select “Civilian Labor Force Level.”

Suggested by Jack Fuller and Charles Gascon.

Assets and liabilities on the Fed’s balance sheet

The gradual build-up of overnight reverse repurchase agreement operations

The Board of Governors reports the consolidated balance sheet of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks in its H.4.1 “Factors Affecting Reserve Balances” release. Table 5 of that release includes the sum of all assets, liabilities, and capital.

Changes in the composition of the Fed’s balance sheet reflect the operations of the Federal Reserve as it conducts monetary policy. The FRED graph above shows two series from that release as well as an indicator of the Fed’s monetary policy:

  • The blue line is the weekly dollar value, as of Wednesday, of the repurchase agreement operations conducted by the Fed. These are assets to the Fed created when it temporarily purchases Treasury securities held by banks.
  • The red line is the weekly dollar value, also as of Wednesday, of the reverse repurchase agreement operations conducted by the Fed. These are liabilities created when it accepts overnight deposits from financial institutions, with a security held as collateral.
  • The third line, in green, is the effective federal funds rate, as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; the units are percent, which are plotted on the right axis.

The graph shows that the value of the overnight reverse repurchase agreements started to increase almost exactly 1 year before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) started to raise its target range for the federal funds rate on March 17, 2022. That is, financial institutions gradually changed the composition of their own balance sheets by trading increasingly larger amounts of Treasury securities in exchange for earning the overnight reverse repurchase agreements award rate paid by the Fed. Those financial transactions effectively reduced the liquidity of lenders and, by doing so, contributed to higher interest rates for borrowers.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Assets: Other: Repurchase Agreements: Wednesday Level.” Click the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to add the other two series: “Liabilities and Capital: Liabilities: Reverse Repurchase Agreements: Wednesday Level” and “Effective Federal Funds Rate.” Use the “Format” tab to change the Y-axis position of Line 3 from left to right.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

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