In a word—improving.

All 12 Federal Reserve Districts reported some level of improvement in economic activity during the most recent survey period (mid-November to Mid-January) as well as for 2011, including improved hiring plans.

The following is a summary of select highlights from the survey:

  • While hiring is expected to be modest in most districts, the 2011 outlook for manufacturing was positive.
  •  Retailing was at least “on target” and even better than anticipated in most districts. 
  •  Tourism has been steady and even improving in most districts. 
  •  Non-financial services (such as advertising, consulting, etc.) showed improvement in many districts.

Commercial real estate was “mixed,” with some districts reporting declining vacancy rates/increasing leasing activity. Little new construction was reported in the public sector and health care project types.

Cut to the chase: what does all this mean? It means that forecasts for 2011 are being recalibrated and dialed up as analysts see a slowly improving job outlook and economy.