Economic activity increased at a slow to moderate pace in Federal Reserve Districts across the country, except in the St. Louis region.
The Federal Reserve Board released its latest Beige Book on Wednesday, noting consumer spending rose modestly during the reporting period. However, retail sales in the St. Louis district declined slightly compared to last year.
Reports in the service sector and commercial real estate market, meanwhile, continued to be mixed, according to the report published in advance of the Federal Open Market Committee meetings.
Each bank gathers anecdotal information on economic conditions in the district for the report.
"The economy of the St. Louis district has slowed since the previous survey," said Ruben Hernandez-Murillo, a St. Louis Fed economist, in audio highlights of the survey. "Reports from business contacts in the district were less optimistic than in October, particularly in the manufacturing sector."
As reported by Missouri Journal last week, political uncertainity on the national level is one of the reasons cited by businesses for not hiring more people, keeping the unemployment rate high.
Taxes, taxes and more taxes
The Internal Revenue Service wants to deliver $153.3 million in undelivered tax refund checks.
More than 99,000 taxpayers across the country are due refund checks this year, the IRS announced Wednesday. Taxpayers who fear their refund checks my have been returned to the IRS are asked to use the Where's My Refund tool on the IRS.gov website to find out the status of their refund checks.
The average taxpayer across the country, meanwhile, is expected to pay a professional tax preparer or accountant $233 to complete his or her 2011 tax return. But, it will only cost $178 for the average taxpayer in Missouri, according to a recent survey by the National Society of Accountants.
The trade group estimates there are approximately 14,000 tax preparers in the Show-Me State.
Plus, the National Retail Federation entered the online sales tax debate, declaring online sellers have a price advantage that is "stifiling" Main Street, mimicking the stance taken by Sen. Roy Blunt.
As Missouri Journal reported last month, the Republican from southwest Missouri said the federal measure would close a tax loophole, leveling the playing field between local and online retailers.
Missouri Journal launch continues
To help finance this goal, B.R. Hook started a crowd-funding effort and is now able to accept funds online. The plan is to raise enough money to pay one reporter for a year. What happens if the effort is more successful than anticipated or if it completely fails? Participate in the effort at B.R. Hook.