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B u sin ess C onditions
R eserve

S eventh

n i STRICT

fed eral
MONTHLY REVIEW PUBLISHED BY THE
FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO

Volume 7, No. 5

May 1, 1924

BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
RODUCTION of basic commodities decreased
during March, and there was a recession in
wholesale prices. Distribution, both at wholesale
and retail, showed less than the usual seasonal in­
crease and was smaller than a year ago.
PRODUCTION—The Federal Reserve Board’s
index of production in basic industries, adjusted to
allow for length of month and other seasonal varia­
tions, declined 3 per cent in March. Output was re­
duced by most industries and the decreases were
particularly large in mill consumption of cotton
and production of bituminous coal and copper. Daily
average production of steel ingots, however, was
larger than in any previous month. The level of
factory employment was unchanged but some cur­
tailment in working hours was evidenced by a de­
cline of one per cent in average weekly earnings.
Contract awards for new buildings in March reached

P

P R O D U C T I O N IN B A S IC

TRADE— Shipments of commodities by railroads
declined each week in March and carloadings were
4 per cent less than a year ago.
Wholesale trade increased slightly during March
but was 8 per cent less than a year ago owing to
decreases in sales of dry goods, shoes, and hard­
ware.
March sales of department stores were 8
per cent less than in March, 1923, and merchandise
stocks at the end of the month were 8 per cent
larger than a year ago. Sales of mail order houses
also showed less than the usual seasonal increase
W H O L E S A L E P R IC E S

IN D U S T R IE S

Index of 22 basic commodities corrected for seasonal variation
(1919=100). Latest figure, March, 1924: 116.




the highest total value on record, owing chiefly to a
large increase in the New York district.
Estimates by the Department of Agriculture on
the basis of condition on April 1 indicate a reduc­
tion of 4 per cent in the yield of winter wheat and
of 6 per cent in the production of rye as compared
with the final harvests in 1923.

Index of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1913=100, base
adopted by the Bureau). Latest figure, March, 1924: 150.

Compiled April 28, 1924

in March. Decrease in the volume of purchases at retail
compared with last year is partly accounted for by the late
Easter and the generally unfavorable weather conditions.
PRICES— Wholesale prices, as measured by the Bureau
of Labor Statistics index, decreased slightly more than one
per cent in March and were 6 per cent lower than a year
ago. Prices of farm products, foods, clothing, chemicals,
and house furnishings declined, building materials remained
unchanged, while fuel and metals were slightly higher
than in February. During the first three weeks of April
quotations on pig iron, lead, coal, silk, and sugar declined,
while prices of wheat, corn, and cotton advanced.
BANK CREDIT— Volume of borrowing for commercial
purposes at member banks in leading cities, after increas­

ing during the early part of the year, remained constant
at a high level between the middle o f March and the
middle of April. During the four-week period total loans
of these banks were in larger volume than at any time in
more than two years.
Discounts and investments of the Federal Reserve Banks,
which on April 2 were slightly above $1,000,000,000, de­
clined by about $125,000,000 during the first three weeks
in April to the lowest point for the year. This decline
represents a reduction in discounts and in the holdings
of acceptances, while the volume of Government securities
increased somewhat. Money rates in the New York mar­
ket during the first three weeks in April were at about the
same level as in the latter part of March. Prime com ­
mercial paper was quoted at 4^ per cent and 90-day
bankers’ acceptances at 4 per cent throughout the period.

M E M B E R B A N K C R ED IT
D E P A R T M E N T STORE SALES

Weekly flfrures for member banks in 101 leading cities. Latest
figures, April 16, 1924: Loans and Discounts, 12,062 million; In­
vestments, 4,550 million; Demand Deposits, 11,340 million; Time
Deposits, 4,251 million.

Index of sales of 333 stores in 117 cities (1919=100). Latest
figures shown, March, 1924: with seasonal correction, 115; with­
out seasonal correction, 115.

BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN THE SEVENTH RESERVE DISTRICT
H E second quarter of 1924 opened with business in
the Middle W est reflecting the counter currents noted
since the beginning of the year. Production and consump­
tion continue large in volume, but forward business is still
restrained by prevailing uncertainty and caution, and the
usual spring developments are slow, in part retarded by
unfavorable weather and the late Easter.

T

These factors tended to keep the total volume of indus­
trial employment for March about the same as in February.
Separate industries, however, followed different trends; iron
and steel production for this district, as well as the volume
of building contracts and permits issued, increasing; but
automobile output maintaining only its February rate; and
operations at meat packing plants and coal mines being cur­
tailed.
In sales and unfilled orders, comparisons with the large
volume of March, 1923, showed declines for most com­
modities, with here and there an increase appearing in the
Page 2 May




ratio of stocks to sales. Collections varied widely, the
majority, however, being characterized as fair, although
below a year ago. Prices trended downward during the
month.
CREDIT AND BANKING CONDITIONS
A normal seasonal demand for bank credit, met with an
ample supply of funds, is coming from the majority of
industries usually requiring money. Rates in Chicago have
shown no fluctuation, time loans ranging from 4
to 5^4
per cent, collateral loans ruling at 5 per cent, and over-thecounter accommodations at 5 to 5^2 per cent. Reports
from several rural sections of the district, however, indi­
cate heavy and even abnormal demand on some country
banks, growing out of the combined influence of unseason­
able weather retarding retail trade, and bad roads seriously
handicapping the marketing of farm produce. These con­
ditions have prevented any extensive liquidations by coun­
try banks.

Loans to member banks by the Federal Reserve bank
exhibited a seasonal upward trend the last week of March
and first week in April, dropping slightly on April 9 and
further on the 16th and 23d, but are below the level at this
time last year. Earning assets, while following the same
general trend as loans to members, show greater shrinkage
in volume from the same period of last year than that
shown by loans, because of lowered holdings of certificates
of indebtedness. On April 23, total earning assets aggre­
gated $121,000,000, a drop of about $1,000,000 from the pre­
ceding week, whereas on the corresponding reporting dates
of 1923 the figures were $152,000,000 and $160,000,000, re­
spectively. A further decline in Federal Reserve note cir­
culation took place in March and the first three weeks of
April, the result of paying out of gold certificates in lieu of
notes, rather than of a decrease in currency requirements,
which normally expand at this season.
POS ITIO N
™

O ,

R E P O R T IN G
d o l a a n s

MEMBER

CHICAGO

a n d

BANKS,

7TH

on April 16 demand deposits of all reporting member banks
were at substantially the same level as on the correspond­
ing reporting date in March. Time deposits, fluctuating
slightly in the aggregate of Chicago and Detroit banks,
attained a new high point on April 16. In other selected
cities the rise has been without any weekly decrease since
January 30.
The report of condition of all member banks in the coun­
try as of December 31, 1923, recently published, shows an

P O S ITIO N

F E D E R A L R E S E R V E B A N K O F C H IC A G O

D IS T R IC T

DETROIT

1600
V * " \< L O A N S t D IS C O U N T S

1400
1

1200

;m

a n d

U A /

d epo si

1000
800
600

T IM E D E P O S IT S

increase in time deposits of over one billion above 1922,
while demand deposits increased less than $350,000,000. In
the preceding year the increase in demand deposits had
been over one and a half billion. In 1923, the gain in the
aggregate of demand, time, and Government deposits was 5
per cent, or about $1,130,000,000.

IN V E S T M E N T J s i / V V

4 00

200
o

OTHER SELECTED CITIES
I

400

-------------- „ _ L O A NS £ DtS C O U N TS
T f

— -

D E M A N D D E R ) S IT S

200

|T IM E D E P O S IT S ]
|

|IN V E S T M E N rS

% '-----------------

0

1919

1920

1921

1922

192}

1924

♦Break in curve indicates data not comparable with preceding.
Based on weekly reports to this bank by approximately 49 mem­
ber banks ini Chicago, 13 in Detroit, and 44 in other selected
cities. Latest figures shown, April 16, 1924.

Loans and discounts of reporting member banks in Chi­
cago and Detroit moved steadily upward during March in
response to usual seasonal demands, though the high point
on March 26 was only $6,000,000 above the level at the
beginning of the year. In other selected cities the increase
over the first of the year was heavier than in Chicago and
Detroit. In comparison with 1923, loans and discounts of
all reporting member banks in March and the first three
reporting dates of April this year were greater in volume.
Demand deposits of reporting members in Chicago and
Detroit dropped sharply between March 26 and April 2.
The employment of funds for tax payments, and the heavy
withdrawals in Chicago prior to the April 1 tax assessment,
account in general for this drop. Funds so withdrawn,
however, are now finding their way back to Chicago and




Business Failures— Business failures in the Seventh dis­
trict in March changed little from February in number or
in the volume o f liabilities involved, the former increasing
3.3 per cent and the latter showing a 5 per cent decrease.
Compared with the corresponding month of 1923, failures in
March increased 23.6 per cent and liabilities 54.8 per cent.
For the United States, 1,817 casualties were reported in
March, or 5 per cent more than in February, but the aggre­
gate of liabilities, $97,651,026, exceeded February’s by ap­
proximately $60,000,000, or 170 per cent.
Commercial Paper— March sales of commercial paper by
eight dealers in the district followed the upward trend
evidenced in that month the last three years, a gain this
year of 23.9 per cent above February; the same comparison
last year showed a considerably smaller increase. Sales
were greater by 15.8 per cent than those of March, 1923.
Paper outstanding at the close of the period was 2.2 per
cent larger in volume than on February 29, but considerably
smaller than that at the end of March a year ago. Rates
remained practically unchanged from February, although,
two reports indicated a slight easing tendency. Practically
all o f the paper sold at 4% per cent, high being 5 per
cent and the low 4y2 per cent. Demand was better than
a month ago and supply increased slightly, although it is
Page 3 May

still moderate as merchants continue to use credit con­
servatively.
Open. Bill Market— Operations of five bill dealers in the
open market during the four-week period ended April 9
increased 32.4 per cent in the aggregate volume of pur­
chases and 1.9 per cent in sales, as compared with those in
the preceding four weeks ended March 12, exclusive of
transfers to and from branches of these dealers. Purchases
from acceptors decreased 23.9 per cent, but this was more
than offset by a four-fold increase in purchases from others.
Sales to the Federal Reserve bank decreased markedly
and those to local banks were 0.2 per cent smaller. Outof-town banks bought a volume 9.8 per cent larger than in
the previous period, while sales to others showed the most
pronounced increase. Holdings at the close of the period
were 5.3 per cent greater than on the date of the previous
report.
The supply of bills, as well as demand, was moderately
good, although a declining tendency was evidenced in both
toward the close of the period. Helped by a good supply
of money in Chicago, bills moved freely at the offered
rates, the best demand being for 30- and 60-day maturities.
Commodities principally involved were provisions, grain,
agricultural implements, cotton, oil, and tobacco.
Rates in all maturities declined during the period, offered
rates at the close of the period ranging from 3% @ 4 per
cent for short maturities to 4@4^i per cent for long-term.
Bid rates at the close on maturities of 90-day and under
were 4@4J6 per cent, over 90-day, 4J^@ 4^ per cent.
Acceptances— Following a rise for two months, the
volume of acceptances executed by eighteen banks in the
district declined 14.0 per cent in March. Purchases like­
wise were considerably smaller than in February, but sales
increased 12.3 per cent. These items were all at a higher
level than a year ago. Month-end holdings declined 35.3
per cent from those on February 29 and were considerably
less than on March 31, 1923. The liability of the banks as
acceptors on acceptances outstanding at the close of the
month amounted to $32,915,494, an increase of 18.3 per cent
above February and 12.2 per cent over a year ago.
Operations of the Federal Reserve bank in the accept­
ance market were somewhat curtailed in March and pur­
chases amounted to $18,000,000 compared with $21,900,000
in February and in March, 1923. Month-end holdings de­
clined from $36,000,000 to $31,500,000 in the month under
review compared with $33,200,000 a year ago.

J o in t S t o c k
L and B a n k s

F e deral
L and B ank s

Number of Banks.............
22
Illinois ................................$44,940,204
Indiana ............................... 29,336,020
Iowa ..................................... 72,976,254
Wisconsin ........................... 4,333,700
Michigan ............................. 1,340,200

4
$20,312,540
29,117,500
45,996,350
22,187,500
16,711,200

I n t e r m e d ia t e
C r e d it B a n k s

4
$464,300
6,962
125,242
137,630
0

$152,926,378

$134,325,090

$734,134

VOLUM E OF PAYM ENT BY CHECK
For the Seventh district all centers reporting volume of
check payment by clearing house banks showed gains over
February, for which the greater length of the month, tax
payments, and seasonal increases in various lines of busi­
ness activity were responsible. In the four larger cities,
Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Indianapolis, the aggre­
gate for the month of March of $4,201,707,000 represents a
15.1 per cent increase, and the corresponding advance in
the twenty smaller centers was 14.2 per cent, involving a
total payment by check of $662,942,000. For the twentyfour cities the gain was 14.9 per cent, with a total volume
o f $4,864,649,000, compared with $4,232,117,000 in February.
V O L U M E O F P A Y M E N T BY C H E C K
Checks D ra w n on Clearing House Banks, 7th D istrict
Billions of Dollars

/

J

Chicago 'D etroit, Milwoufce
Indianapolis
V *s . J

^

1

\i

-Other Clearing Centers

1919

1920

1921

1922

192^

1924

Figures used are estimates for calendar months based on
weekly reports to this bank. Latest figures shown, March, 1924,
in thousands of dollars: Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and In­
dianapolis, 4,201,707; 20 other clearing house centers, 662,942.

SAVINGS ACCOUNTS AND DEPOSITS

Loans outstanding of twenty-two Joint Stock Land banks
in the five states including the Seventh district on March 31
showed a gain of nearly $3,000,000 over the aggregate on
February 29, and those of four Federal Land banks in the
same territory moved upward by approximately $3,600,000,
totaling $134,325,090, as compared with $130,681,740 at the
end of February. Four Intermediate Credit banks, while
operating in this district far less extensively than the Joint
Stock or Federal Land banks, showed an increase of over
$90,000, the largest gain shown in any month since
December, 1923.

Savings accounts and deposits continued to increase
during March, according to figures received from banks
representing approximately 40 per cent of the savings
deposits in this district. The expansion in the amount of
savings deposits from March 1 to April 1 aggregated 0.9
per cent, while the average account gained 0.5 per cent
during the same period. Compared with a year ago there
was a gain of 7.9 per cent in the amount of savings deposits
with a gain of only 0.7 per cent in the average account; in
comparison with the 1920 average an increase of 21.1 per
cent is shown in amount of savings deposits, while a de­
crease of 2.6 per cent was reported in the size of the aver­
age savings account.

The table given below shows the distribution by states
of outstanding loans of these banks as of March 31:

Iowa, which was the only state to show a decline in the
amount of its savings accounts, registered a decrease of 0.2

AGRICULTURAL FINANCING

Page 4 May




per cent, both in the amount of its savings deposits and in
its average savings account. The average account in Illi­
nois also declined, though less noticeably than in Iowa.
Michigan continued to show greater improvement between
March 1 and April 1 than any of the other four states in
the district, having registered a gain of 2.1 per cent in the
amount of savings deposits and 1.6 per cent in its average
savings account.
BONDS AND INVESTMENTS
Trading in the bond market subsided during the first
half of March, a condition partly attributable to the accu­
mulation of funds for income tax payment and to anticipa­
tion of government financing. The latter half of the month,

however, the demand strengthened slightly with prices
showing a small improvement. Short-term issues were in
particularly good demand, especially from institutions and
large investors, who have enjoyed a prosperous year and
are not using the profits for business extension. The small
investor still appears to prefer the long-time bonds. Out­
standing in the existing demand are the public utility issues,
as well as rails and equipment; industrials have not been
particularly active and have shown signs of price recession;
and foreign issues have been weak. The demand in the
real estate market has been moderate with an upward trend
appearing at the latter part of the month, in line with in­
creasing activity in the underwritings on new construction,
investment houses, however, exercising conservatism in an
effort to discourage purely speculative construction.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND CONDITIONS

Statistics computed on the Government estimate of re­
duced acreage seeded last fall, and the lower April 1 condi­
tion of the plant compared with a year ago, indicate a
smaller winter wheat production than the previous year
for the five states lying principally in the Seventh Federal
Reserve district. Based on the April 1 condition, the
Bureau of Agricultural Economics forecasts a 1924 produc­
tion of 549,415,000 bushels of winter wheat and 59,135,000
■bushels of rye in the United States, compared with
572,340,000 bushels and 63,023,000 bushels, respectively, the
final estimates for 1923.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimated
that the farmers in this country had 10.8 per cent fewer
breeding sows on April 1, 1924, than a year ago. The
greatest decline in numbers was in the corn belt, Indiana,
Illinois, and Iowa showing a falling off of about 12 per
cent.
FLOUR
The increase over February of 4.2 per cent in total March
output of thirty-nine flour mills in this district— wheat flour
registering a gain of 4.9 per cent while other flour declined
2.1 per cent— was largely due to the fact that there was one
more working day in March, in which month the operating
ratio averaged 53.2 per cent of capacity compared with
53.1 per cent in February. Total flour production at these
mills gained 17.7 per cent over a year ago when the oper­
ating ratio was 43.5 per cent, wheat flour showing an in­
crease of 21.7 per cent and other flour a decline of 10.8 per
cent.
Stocks of flour on hand March 31 were 5.0 per cent larger
than at the end of February and 5.6 per cent greater than
on the corresponding date last year, but wheat stocks
showed declines of 13.0 per cent and 6.6 per cent, re­
spectively.
March sales of flour increased 7.1 per cent in volume and
8.4 per cent in value over February, and comparison with
the corresponding month a year ago showed an increase
of 4.0 per cent in volume with little change in value.




GRAIN M ARKETING
Grain receipts were smaller at interior primary markets
during March than in February, wheat and oats falling
slightly below the corresponding month of last year. Ship­
ments of wheat and oats from these markets were slightly
greater than in February, although the volume was less than
in March, 1923. Corn moved out of primary centers in larger
quantities during March than in the corresponding period
a year ago, but the volume receded slightly from February.
Chicago grain prices for March were easier than in the
preceding month. The volume of futures traded in on the
Chicago Board of Trade during March exceeded that in
February. Foreign demand has been fair, with the volume
o f March exports of oats, rye, corn, and barley larger than
during February and wheat smaller.
The visible supplies of wheat in the United States,
Canada, and the United Kingdom aggregated 252,317,000
bushels on April 12, 1924, compared with 265,067,000 bush­
els on March 15, 1924, and 186,385,000 bushels on April
14, 1923.
VISIBLE SUPPLY OF GRAIN IN THE UNITED STATES
Stocks in private and public warehouses, at principal points of accu­
mulation, at lake and seaboard points, and in transit by water in the
United States. Figures supplied by the Chicago Board of Trade.
(In thousands of bushels)
W heat

April 12, 1924
Warehouses andAfloat ... 56,673
Bonded ............................. 5,985
March 15, 1924
Warehouses and Afloat.. 61,656
Bonded ............................... 13,581
April 14, 1923
Warehouses and Afloat.. 45,476
Bonded .................
8,540

C orn

O ats

R ye

B a rl ey

22,319

14,076
1,208

21,503
1,115

1,162
200

25,052

18,063
1,616

21,641
1,500

1,531
110

26,897

23,073
1,660

18,415
1,718

2,565
985

M OVEM EN T OF LIVE STOCK
H og slaughter in March declined in accordance with the
customary quarterly downswing which normally follows
the January peak. For the first time this year the slaughter
of sheep and hogs decreased as compared with that of
the corresponding month of 1923.
Page 5 May

LIVE STOCK SLAUGHTER
C a tt l e

Eight yards, Seventh district
March, 1924.................................
February, 1924.............................
Public Stock Yards in U. S.
March, 1924...................................
February, 1924.............................
March, 1923...................................

H oc. s

S heep

C alves

218,605
205,950

991,036 224,044
1,067,454 222,353

131,144
114,323

632,886
601,360
610,571

2,975,596 719,010
3,277,376 725,266
3,233,638 805,096

358,083
314,045
345,138

The shipment of sheep, cattle, and calves back to the
farms so far in 1924 continues less than in the early part
of 1923, although this feeder movement of cattle and calves
was slightly greater in March, 1924, than in the preceding
month.
AVERAGE PRICES OF LIVE STOCK
Per hundred pounds at Chicago
W e e k E nded
A p r il

12, 1924
C lass
Native Beef Steers (average) ....... $10.05
Fat Cows and Heifers....................... 6.80
Canners and Cutters......................... 3.25
Calves .......................................... ........ 10.00
Stockers and Feeders................ ........ 6.75
Hogs (bulk of sales).................. ........ 7.40
Sheep .......................................... ........ 10.40
Yearling Sheep ........................ ........ 13.40
Lambs ........................................ ........ 16.30

M o n t h s of
M arch
F ebruary
$

1924
9.55
6.05
3.20
9.50
6.80
7.35
9.60
12.50
15.65

1924
9.30
5.55
3.00
10.50
6.25
7.10
8.75
12.45
14.70

$

M arch

1923
8.85
6.25
3.60
9.15
7.25
8.20
8.00
11.60
13.85

$

M EAT PACKING
Statistics compiled from reports sent direct to this bank
by fifty meat packing companies in the United States show
March sales in dollars 1.8 per cent below those in Febru­
ary. A recession of 3.8 per cent from March, 1923, in sales
by these establishments is attributed to Easter being later
in the year. Sales usually contract slightly during the
Lenten period, after which season gradual expansion takes
place until the annual peak is reached in October. March
production was slightly lower than in the preceding month,
but inventories at cold storage warehouses and packing
plants in the United States showed the usual seasonal gain
over those on March 1. April 1 holdings were somewhat
larger than the average for that date in the preceding three
years, although less than the five-year average for April 1.
Employment declined 6.1 per cent in number, 7.5 per cent
in hours worked, and 6.0 per cent in total payrolls in the
period covered by the last pay date in March compared
with the corresponding period in February.
Wholesale prices of lamb and dry salt pork were firmer
at Chicago during March than in February; those of veal
and lard were easier; prices of other edible products were

practically unchanged from those prevailing in the pre­
ceding month.
A combination of factors resulted in a lesser volume of
meat and lard forwarded in March for export than in the
preceding month, namely: unchanged condition of the meat
trade in English markets where Danish and Dutch com ­
petition is keen, seasonal influences affecting export de­
mand, and particularly, the difficulty experienced by Ger­
man buyers in obtaining American exchange to finance
their imports. Inventories of goods already abroad were
indicated slightly greater on April 1 than at the beginning
of March. Prices on the continent have been about on a
parity with those in the United States, but in the United
Kingdom the values realized on products from the United
States have been below a parity with our domestic markets.
DAIRY PRODUCTS AND POULTRY
The seasonal upswing in creamery butter production,
which normally reaches a peak in June, was started in
March, as shown by an increase of 4.0 per cent over Febru­
ary, according to direct reports from representative pro­
ducers in the Seventh district. These reports show a de­
cline o f 2.4 per cent from March a year ago. A gain in
the output in the United States over the corresponding
month in 1923, as well as a slight rise above February, is
indicated by the statistics issued for March by the Amer­
ican Association of Creamery Butter Manufacturers. The
Wisconsin factories produced about 2 per cent more cheese
during the four-week period ended March 29 than in the
preceding four weeks. Aggregate sales of creamery butter
reported direct to this bank by representative companies
in the district increased in volume 5.7 per cent over those
in February, 1924, and 7.9 per cent over March, 1923.
Arrivals of dairy products were greater at Chicago during
March than in the preceding month, but poultry receipts
declined. Wholesale prices of dairy products trend down­
ward, but those of poultry are firmer than in February.
April 1 inventories of butter, cheese, and eggs were larger
at cold storage warehouses in the United States than they
were a year ago, but showed a seasonal recession from
those of March 1. Poultry stocks were lower than on
either March 1 , 1924, or April 1 , 1923.

FUEL AND POWER PRODUCTION
COAL
Bituminous coal production in the United States, which
continued its downward trend during the latter part of
March and early April, interrupted only by a slight in­
crease during the week ended March 15, reached the low
level of approximately 6,742,000 net tons during the week
ended April 12. The most marked decline in output oc­
curred in the week ended April 5, during which period
production aggregated 6,826,000 tons, a reduction of
1.992.000 tons from the preceding week. Total March out­
put was estimated by the Geological Survey at 39,909,000
tons, compared with 45,725,000 tons in February, and
46.802.000 tons the same month a year ago.
In the Seventh district, the percentage of time lost during
March because of lack of orders was larger in the Illinois
Page 6 May




and Indiana fields than in the preceding month, and it is
reported that a number of additional mines have closed,
while those continuing in operation have still further re­
duced their running time. Aggregate March production
in the state of Illinois showed decreases of 27.8 per cent
from February and 26.1 per cent from March, 1923.
The close of the coal year on March 31 brought little
change in the market situation in this district. Although
there has been some contracting for the coming year, this
movement has proceeded more slowly than usual, and it
is also reported that rather than enter the market to meet
their current needs, many industrial users and railroads
with large storage stock accumulated in anticipation of
a possible strike in the central competitive fields, have
continued to draw from these supplies during the past

month. With the advent of warmer weather and the con­
sequent falling off in domestic demand, most mines began
to accumulate cars of the larger sizes and were, therefore,
forced to curtail operations, thus reducing the output of
screenings and other fine coal. This decline in the supply
of the latter sizes, accentuated by the demand caused by
the miners’ strike in the Southwestern states and by labor
difficulties in Western Kentucky, lead to a little firming of
fine coal, but the slight improvement was not sufficient to
offset the downward trend in the prices of domestic sizes.
The average spot price of bituminous coal, as compiled
by Coal Age, continued to decline during the past month
from $2.18 for the week ended March 10 to $2.07 for the
week ended April 7. The average spot price in the follow­
ing week was $2.08. It is reported that a small volume of
Pocahontas lump and mine-run has been taken by the
domestic trade in the Middle W est at prices of $3.00@$3.25
and $200@$2.25, respectively.
Anthracite production in the United States during the
latter part of March was maintained at 'a weekly rate of
about 1,940,000 net tons, with the exception of the week
ended March 22 when the partial observance of St.
Patrick’s Day caused output to fall to 1,804,000 tons. The
sharp decline to 1,548,000 tons during the week ended
April 5, caused by the practically complete cessation of
operations on Eight-hour Day, April 1, was followed by a
partial recovery during the week ended April 12, when

1,856,000 tons were mined. It is reported that some anthra­
cite has been moving to the Middle W est since the price
cuts of April 1.
ELECTRIC ENERGY
While aggregate plant output and sales to industrial
users were larger in March than in the preceding month,
the increase over February’ s operations was not so pro­
nounced as in 1923. Output rose, however, to the highest
point in any of the five years for which figures have been
reported to this bank, while sales were exceeded only in
August, 1923. On the daily average basis the decreased
output from February is in contrast to a rise last year, but
in line with declines in years previous to 1923. The de­
cline in the working day average of industrial sales from
February is somewhat larger than last year.
CHANGES IN MARCH, 1924, FROM PREVIOUS MONTHS
Compiled from direct reports to this bank from eight companies
M arch

1924
1,822,630
Plant capacity (K .W .).......................
Plant output (K .W .H .)..................... 598,836,817
Plant
output
(daily
average—
K .W .H .) ....................................... 19,317,317
1,432,392
Peakload demand (K .W .)...............
Industrial sales (K .W .H .)............... 225,179,456
Industrial sales (working day average— K .W .H .) ...........................
8,660,748
M arch

1924
Ratio peakload demand to plant capacity.... 78.6
Load factor ..................................................... 56.2

P er c e n t c h a n g e fro m
F ebr u a ry M a rc h

1924
4-2.2
4-6.5

1923
4-11.1
4-10.2

— 0.4
4-0.6
4-1-1

4-10.2
4-15.1
4-13.4

— 2.8
F ebruary

1924
79.8
56.8

4-17‘.8
M arch

1923
75.9
58.7

INDUSTRIAL EM PLOYM ENT CONDITIONS
Total volume of industrial employment in the Seventh
Federal Reserve district remained practically unchanged
during the month of March. For 337 firms reporting direct
to this bank, and representing an aggregate of 232,000 men,
an increase of 0.1 per cent was recorded. In the state of
Illinois, according to returns received through its Depart­
ment of Labor from 1,203 manufacturing concerns, the
March 15 figures showed 307,212 employed as against
307,227 a month earlier. Excluding the returns from the
southern part of this state not within our reserve district,
the remaining returns averaged a decline of 0.4 per cent.
During the same period, Wisconsin averaged a gain of 1.7
per cent in manufacturing employment as reported through
the Industrial Commission of that state.
O f twenty-nine industrial groups represented in the re­
turns for the entire district, the majority showed increases
for the month. Additional men were employed by the
large iron and steel mills and by manufacturers of iron and

steel products in general, the expansion for 97 plants with
an employment of 64,000 amounting to 1.5 per cent. The
non-ferrous metals also increased their working forces,
the mining of lead and zinc as reported for Wisconsin
showing a gain of 30 per cent. Building and construction
work, while not yet displajdng any great spring expan­
sion of activity, made increases in employment, as did also
building supplies in general. The heaviest declines re­
ported for the month were in meat packing, tanning, and
in the manufacture of boxes and containers. Other indus­
tries showing a definite downward trend in employment
w ere the m an ufactu re of agricu ltu ra l m a ch in ery and of
musical instruments.
Reports generally indicate a surplus of common labor
waiting to be absorbed with the resumption of outdoor
work. Such work had not yet started on a large scale at
the close of March. At the Illinois Free Employment
offices, the number of applicants per hundred jobs was 157
in March, as against 155 in February.

MANUFACTURING ACTIVITIES AND OUTPUT
AU TO M O BILE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBU­
TION
Production of automobiles during March, greater in the
aggregate than in February, maintained approximately the
same daily average. Total output increased over a year
ago, but less extensively than was shown by the yearly
comparisons of January and February. Statistics received
from identical manufacturers representing practically com­
plete February production show 348,287 passenger cars
built during March, an increase of 3.6 per cent over Febru­
ary and 9.0 per cent above a year ago. Trucks built in




March by manufacturers reporting a February output of
30,399, numbered 33,061, a gain of 8.8 per cent over Febru­
ary and a drop of 2.9 per cent from March, 1923.
Actual sales of new automobiles and motorcycles at both
wholesale and retail, which had been reported during the
month ended April 1, aggregate $178,650,108 for the five
states including the Seventh Federal Reserve district, com­
pared with $120,589,386 reported up to March 1, a gain of
48.1 per cent, and $134,835,941 for the corresponding month
of 1923, a gain of 32.5 per cent. Actual sales of auto­
mobile trucks and motor wagons in these five states agPage 7 May

gregated $14,581,703 compared with $16,881,437 in the
previous month, a decrease of 13.6 per cent; from the cor­
responding month of 1923, however, with an aggregate of
$13,093,414, a gain of 11.4 per cent was shown this year.
Actual sales of automobile parts and accessories amounted
to $14,194,355 compared with $7,588,721 in the preceding
month, an increase of 87.0 per cent, while the comparison
with the corresponding month a year ago shows actual
sales of $16,450,171, a loss of 13.7 per cent. These figures
are not comparable with the March production or factory
shipment figures.
Automobile production statistics reported by the Census
Bureau show 348,396 passenger cars built during March
compared with 336,363 in February. Trucks built during
March amounted to 34,063 compared with 31,072 in Feb­
ruary.
For the first quarter of this year, the aggregate produc­
tion of automobiles reached 1,063,489 passenger cars and
trucks, compared with 876,950 in the corresponding period
last year, an increase of 21.3 per cent. O f this volume,
971,782 were passenger cars, an increase of 21.1 per cent,
and 91,707 trucks, an increase of 23.3 per cent. Although
production was being maintained at a higher rate in March
than in the corresponding month a year ago, retail sales
were considerably less and warehouses are carrying a
larger number of new cars than a year ago. This may be
attributed in part to the effect of the weather on business
conditions generally. During April the retail delivery at
Chicago, which is a distributing point, gained momentum,
insufficient, however, to clear the warehouses, as new con­
signments continue to come from factories.
Reports to this bank from seventy-four dealers and dis­
tributors in the Middle W est indicate a further increase in
the number of new cars sold at wholesale as compared
with the preceding month, but a shrinkage from the pre­
vious March; retail sales increased notably over February,
but decreased compared with a year ago. Stocks of new
cars on hand March 31 show a small increase over Febru­
ary 29, while the comparison with a year ago shows con­
siderable gain. Sales of used cars were well in line with
new cars sold at retail, increasing over February, but de­
clining from March of last year. Salable used cars on
hand March 31 increased over the preceding month and
year, and represented 163 per cent of the number sold
during March.
DISTRIBUTION OF AUTOMOBILES
Changes in March, 1924, from previous months
P er c e n t c h a n g e from
F

ebruary

M

1924
38
69
38
69

74
74
68

69
69




C o m p a n ie s in c l u d e d

F ebruary

M arch

1924

1923

1924

— 1.9
— 23.4
— 28.8
— 24.1
— 14.1
— 7.7

29
29
29
29
28
28

Pig iron consumed............. + 3.8
Iron scrap consumed......... . — 12.4
Steel scrap consumed......... + 16.2
Total tonnage consumed-.... +10.1
Castings shipped (tonnage)
+22.8
+ 17.6
Castings shipped (dollars)..

F ebruary

M arch

1923
26
26
26
26
25
28

The accompanying chart is designed to bring out the
fact that while shipments and production show the same
trend for each month except January, 1924, the peak of
production occurred in March, seven months before that of
shipments, in October; also a fair portion of shipments
from May, 1923, to January, 1924, were made from stocks
built up in the first four and one-half months of 1923.

IN D IC E S OF P R O D U C T IO N A N D S H IP M E N T S BY C A S T IN G
F O U N D R IE S , S E V E N T H D IS T R IC T

42
42

7 .6

— 26.7
+ 63.2
+ 4 0 .0

31

Shipments of automobiles during Alarch reported by the
National Automobile Chamber of Commerce were in larger
carload volume than in February and Alarch last year,
although driveaways decreased from .the preceding month
and were less by one-third than last year. The volume of
Page 8 May

P er c e n t c h a n g e fro m

48
48
52

+ 2 5 .4
—
1 .2

CHANGES IN MARCH, 1924, FROM PREVIOUS MONTHS
Compiled from direct reports to this bank

54

— 7.8

Shipments by casting foundries in the district in March
increased extensively over those in the preceding month,
exhibiting even a greater rise than in February, compared
with January. Tonnage and value of shipments showed
lessened volume of operations from a year ago, as was
also the case in January and February; the total con­
sumption of metal in March underwent a slightly larger
contraction, in the year-to-year comparison, than in the
preceding month.
The larger proportion of commitments for metal placed
by these foundries is for immediate delivery or early
in the second quarter. Half of the foundries find collec­
tions fair and practically all of the others good.

31
54

—

CASTING FOUNDRIES

1923

—
1 .5
— 1 6 .7

1923

1924

Number of n e w c a r s s o l d
Wholesale ..................... + 1 6 .8
Retail ............................. 4 - 7 4 . 8
Value of new cars sold
Wholesale ..................... + 2 2 . 7
Retail ............................. 4 - 6 9 . 3
New cars on hand at end
of month
Number ......................... + 3 0
Value ............................. + l.S
Used cars sold during month + 3 4 .4
Salable used cars on hand at
end of month
Number ......................... + 4 .9
Value ............................. + 0 .4

arch

C o m p a n ie s in c l u d e d
M a rc h
F e br u a ry

boat shipments was unchanged from February and con­
siderably under March, 1923.
February exports of passenger cars from the United
States amounting to 13,329 in number and $9,527,171 in
value represent gains of 5.7 per cent and 4.6 per cent,
respectively, over January, while the February, 1923, com ­
parison shows a gain of 50.6 per cent in number and 51.6
per cent in value. Trucks exported during the month
numbered 1,704, valued at $1,507,277, showing losses of
40.1 per cent and 18.7, respectively, from January. Com­
pared with February a year ago the number remained
practically the same, although the value rose 38.0 per cent.
Inventories of casings and inner tubes at the end of Feb­
ruary were larger than those of January 31, according to
the report of the Rubber Association of America.

Production measured by total metal consumption.
Shipments based on dollar value.
L a te s t figures shown, March, 1924: Production, 91.8; Ship­
ments, 94.5.

STOVES AND FURNACES
The increase over February in March shipments by stove
and furnace manufacturers was less extensive than in either
1922 or 1923. A marked shrinkage in orders took place,
accentuating the trend in February, when only a slight
decline from January was shown. Moulding room opera­
tions were in less volume than in February; a reversal of
the movement in the same period of 1923 when an in­
crease took place. Reporting manufacturers find collections
f^ir.
CHANGES IN MARCH, 1924, FROM PREVIOUS MONTHS
Compiled from direct reports to this bank
P er c e n t c h a n g e fro m
F e br u a ry
M arch

Shipments .............................
Orders accepted ........ ...........
Inventories ................ ...........
Operations (moulding room)

1924
+17.8
— 17.7
+ 6.4
— 3.0

1923
— 2.2
— 37.1
+ 1.5
— 7.9

C o m p a n ie s INCLUDED
F e br u a ry M a r c h

1924
17
12

12
15

1923
17
12
10
14

IRON AND STEEL
Restraint and conservatism continued to mark the atti­
tude of purchasers in March, largely because of the com­
parative ease in obtaining prompt shipments. Despite this
policy of buying for immediate needs, the aggregate book­
ings during the month were sufficient for the maintenance
of large-scale operations, although toward the end of the
month a slight tapering off in production was noted among
a few scattered independents. Activity of railroads, partic­
ularly for track materials and rails, and demand for struc­
tural materials were the strong sustaining factors of the
month. Total new business booked in March, however,
was somewhat less than in February, and the unfilled
orders of the United States Steel Corporation declined 2.6
per cent after advancing steadily since December. Hes­
itation on the part of buyers forced increased competition
in some lines with the result that toward the close of the
month a number of the smaller mills were making price
concessions. The composite average of iron and steel prices
declined slightly but steadily throughout the month. Since
the third week in February, when the peak for the year
was reached, the composite average has been falling and
at the close of March was at the lowest point since the
second week in January. The pig iron market experienced
a month of exceptional dullness with buyers studiously
avoiding forward commitments. Prices of pig iron remained
fairly stable, although concessions were rather freely
granted toward the close of the month. Shipments were
maintained on a fairly large scale.
In the Chicago district operations at steel mills continued
unabated; shipments went forward at a greater rate than
in February; and new business was in excess of that of
the preceding month. A tendency on the part of buyers
toward limiting forward purchases was in evidence through­
out the month and became more pronounced toward the
close. With the exception of rails, on which deliveries in
the third quarter are scheduled, most of the orders on
the books of mills are for second quarter shipment. Prices
in the district remained fairly stable, concessions being
made only in a few isolated instances. Scrap metal prices
declined throughout the month.
The daily rate of production of steel ingots in the United
States during March made a new record, exceeding the
peak established in April, 1923, by about one per cent and




rising 5.4 per cent above the February rate. The aggre­
gate production of 4,145,829 tons during the month was
9.7 per cent greater than that of February and 2.4 per cent
more than in March, 1923. Average daily production of pig
iron rose 5.3 per cent for the country and 8.5 per cent for
the Illinois and Indiana district above that of the previous
month. The total production in March was 3,461,132 tons,
an increase of 12.6 per cent over February.
Zinc— Following a decrease of 11.6 per cent in February,
production of slab zinc in March was 47,775 tons, an in­
crease of 8.7 per cent above that of the previous month.
Total shipments were 52,893 tons, an increase of 11.5 per
cent over those of February. Stocks declined 13.8 per
cent.
Reports from the Joplin district show weekly
average shipments of zinc ore of 16,919 tons, the largest
this year.
AGRICULTURAL M ACHINERY AND EQ UIPM ENT
Although the increase in sales during March over Febru­
ary was less marked in 1924 than a year ago because of
smaller expansion in domestic sales by the power tillage
group than in March, 1923, the figures, nevertheless,
showed a continuance of the usual upward seasonal trend
begun in February. In 1923 substantial increases were not
shown until March. Sales normally reach a high point in
May or June.
The total of March exports was greater than in the pre­
ceding month or in the corresponding period last year.
Production rose slightly above February, the rate being
about 63.5 per cent of the theoretical normal for March.
Collections have been somewhat slow in parts o f the corn
and wheat belts, and in the middle Atlantic, south, and
southwestern states.
PRODUCTION AND SALES OF FARM EQUIPMENT IN U. S.
Changes in March, 1924, from previous months
P er c e n t c h a n g e fro m
F ebruary
M a rc h

C o m p a n ie s in c l u d e d
F e br u a ry M a r c h

1923
— 9.1
+93.4

1924
113
113

1923
113
113

+ 0.1
— 6.7

1924
Domestic sales ..................... +15.6
Sales billed for export....... +24.1
Total domestic and export
sales ................................. +17.0
Production ........................... + 0.8

113
107

113
107

Sales based on dollar amounts. Production computed from employment.

I N D I C E S OF P R O D U C T I O N A N D S A L E S O F A G R I C U L T U R A L
M A C H I N E R Y A N D E Q U I P M E N T IN T H E U. S.
P a rC e n t
130
z

120
t ie

J

'" 'S a le s Billed

r
^

/
* 1923 Monthly Average-100

"

100
/

-------------- •

90
\
80

10

\
\
\

/
/
/
/*

/

/

60
50

r ~
1923

--------

1924

Production computed from employment.
Sales based on dollar value.
Latest figures shown, March, 1924: Production, 100.1; Sales
billed, 114.7.
Page 9 May

SHOE MANUFACTURING, TANNING AND HIDES
Shoe manufacturers in the Seventh district report that
production and shipments during March continued at ap­
proximately the same rate as in February. Both produc­
tion and shipments were somewhat in excess of those in the
corresponding month of 1922, although less than in March
last year. Forwardings were 7.1 per cent greater than
current production, while the aggregate of the unfilled
orders reported by twenty-two companies was adequate
for six weeks’ business at their present rate of activity.
Inventories on April 1 of twenty-eight companies were
equivalent to 76.4 per cent of their shipments in March.
Collections, especially from southern and northwestern
sections of the United States, continued slow.
CHANGES IN THE SHOE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IN
MARCH, 1924, COMPARED WITH PREVIOUS MONTHS
P er c e n t c h a n g e from
M a rch
F e br ua ry

1924
Production ...................................
Shipments ..... ........................ .
Inventories..... .......................
Unfilled orders .....................

— 0.3
+ 3.9

— 4.S
+ 7.9

1923
— 14.6
— 14.7
+ 10.5

— 11.0

C o m p a n ie s INCLUDED
M a rc h
F e br u a ry

1924
32
32
29

23

1923
32
32
29

23

A slight recession in leather production from that in
February was indicated by the March returns from rep­
resentative tanners in the Seventh district. March sales
were about equal in total volume to those of the preceding
month. Prices of calf have been a little easier; other leath­
ers have not shown any material change in the last month.
Tanners in the district report that their purchases of raw
material were smaller in March than in February. A l­
though prices of green hides and skins declined from the
February level, trading at Chicago continued on a limited
basis. The large transactions in the early part o f April

involved principally a movement of branded hides suitable
for tanning into sole leather.
FURNITURE
Activity in the furniture manufacturing industry was well
maintained during March, according to figures from firms
reporting to this bank which indicated a continuance of
operation at an average of over 80 per cent of capacity
during that month. Although orders booked showed a
slight gain over February, the heavy shipments made dur­
ing the month caused unfilled orders to decline 12.2 per
cent, leaving approximately four weeks’ business on hand
on March 31; compared with a year ago,' March shipments
showed little change, while orders declined 10.3 per cent,
and unfilled orders at the end of the month were 43.0 per
cent smaller than on the corresponding date last year. Col­
lections compared favorably with the February figure and
were about on a par with those of a year ago.
RA W W O O L AND FINISHED W O O LEN S
The strength of foreign wool markets and the conse­
quent further reshipment of bonded wools abroad were
the dominant factors in holding domestic prices moderately
firm until the first week in April when slight reductions
were shown. According to direct reports from wool deal­
ers in this district, March sales in most instances showed
rather noticeable declines from February, and were also
smaller than in March, 1923. It is reported that from 10
to 15 per cent of the new clip in the W est has been pur­
chased, though recently little contracting has been in evi­
dence. Reports from woolen mills in this district indicate
little change during March, either in production or demand
for woolen goods.

BUILDING MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
Preparations for spring construction were indicated in
the activity of building materials during March. The
movement of lumber was unusually heavy, receipts at Chi­
cago aggregating 342,665,000 feet and shipments 210,121,000
feet. These represented respective increases of 19.4 per
cent and 2.4 per cent over February, and of 5.6 per cent and
17.9 per cent over March, 1923. Cement production was
greater than for the corresponding month of any previous
year, although shipments fell below those of a year ago.
The ratio of production to shipments was 115.3 in com­
parison with 95.7 in March last year. Operations in the
brick industry displayed signs of increased activity in the
part of Illinois included in the Seventh Federal Reserve
district, although conditions in this state have been good
throughout the winter months. In Chicago, demand was
as good as a year ago and plants continued to operate at
capacity. The entire output has been absorbed by current
needs; in fact, it has been difficult to keep up with the de­
mand. Wherever any slackness has been reported in these
industries, inclement weather and the bad condition of the
roads are assigned as the chief causes.
Prices remained steady throughout the district with the
exception of an increase of 2^4 cents in cement quotations
at Peoria and Indianapolis and a slight fluctuation in hard­
wood prices. Collections were reported as being satisfac­
tory and there was no noticeable change in this situation.
Page 10 May




CONTRACTS AND PERMITS
The fresh impetus given to building activity with the ap­
proach of spring was reflected in the increased contracts
awarded during March in this district. Total valuation was
32 per cent greater than in February, and 0.9 per cent above
the same month last year. Contracts for residential con­
struction increased 49.9 per cent over the preceding month
and, although the gain over March, 1923, was only 0.5 per
cent, the aggregate amount of contracts awarded for this
purpose since the first of the year exceeded the 1923 total
for the same period by $13,276,604, or 22.1 per cent.
Contracts placed in Michigan and Illinois increased in
comparison with the same month last year, while there was
a marked decline in Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Incle­
ment weather retarded construction somewhat in the last
named states, but the generally lessened activity of busi­
ness in Iowa and Indiana was also a contributing factor in
the declines shown. March revealed a gain over February
for all o f these states except Indiana, where a decrease of
20 per cent was reported.
The estimated cost of permits issued by fifty cities in the
district showed a considerable falling off from the March,
1923, totals for both Illinois and Indiana, but an increase of
107.7 per cent in the Wisconsin figures effected a gain of
1.5 per cent for the district as a whole. Milwaukee was a
large factor in the estimates for this state, as permits is­

sued there amounted to $5,079,081 in comparison with $1,596,808 in February, and $2,406,742 in March last year. The
greater part of this increase was in residential construction.
Chicago, Indianapolis, and Des Moines showed decreases
from March, 1923, in the estimated cost of permits issued,
but increases in number. The cumulative total for the

first three months in 1924 of the five large cities in the dis­
trict was considerably below that for the same period in
1923, while figures for the forty-five smaller cities report­
ing to this bank showed a gain. For the fifty cities, March
figures represented a total estimated cost of $68,617,724, a
gain of 60.6 per cent over February.

MERCHANDISING CONDITIONS
W H O L E SA LE TRADE
Total sales during the first quarter of 1924 for the five
groups of wholesalers reporting to this bank were less in
the aggregate than the corresponding 1923 volume. E x­
cept for shoes, however, the differences were slight, drugs
showing 5 per cent less in total sales, dry goods 4, hard­
ware 3, and groceries, in which less than half the stores
showed declines, 1 per cent. Furthermore, in comparing
the two years, the unusual expansion of the first three
months of 1923 should be taken into consideration. Com­
parisons of 1924 with the opening quarter of 1922 show
increases for all commodities except shoes. Drug, dry
goods, and hardware sales were larger than in 1921.
For March alone, the majority of dealers in each group
reported a smaller volume of business than in 1923— drugs
and shoes continuing the declines noted in the two pre­
ceding months, hardware and groceries averaging the sec­
ond decreases for the year, and dry goods, which until
March had maintained their 1923 level, showing next to the
largest decline.
The dry goods group also registered the only decrease
from February, a significant trend in view of the large in­
creases usually expected at this time of year. For the other
commodities, gains over February were smaller than corre­
sponding changes in 1923, partly on account of the extra
day in February and the fifth Sunday in March this year.
Then, too, cold weather and bad roads continued definitely
deterring factors throughout March, especially to rural
trade. These influences likewise affected collections, none
of the groups showing so high a ratio of March collections
to February sales this year as last.
The hardware inventory index rose to a new level March
31, the increase at this time being a customary seasonal
feature in preparation for spring shipments. For both hard­
ware and groceries, stocks are being carried in about the
same proportion to sales as last year. Drug, shoe, and dry
goods inventories, however, are higher.
DEPARTMENT STORE TRADE
For the first time in two years, department stores re­
porting to this bank failed to show larger total sales than
for the corresponding month of the preceding year. Fac­
tors contributing to this unfavorable comparison of March,
1924, with a year ago were adverse weather conditions, the
one less trading day in March this year, and the later date
of Easter. The same influences affected the seasonal ex­
pansion over February, normally the second or third
largest increase of the year.
Collections similarly were retarded, the 43.6 percentage
ratio of March collections to accounts outstanding at the
end of February comparing with 46.8 last year. Accounts
on the books were reduced during February by 7 per cent,
which is a smaller rate of decrease, however, than noted in




1922 and 1923, in both of which years March 1 was the
lowest point.
All but three reporting stores were carrying heavier
stocks at the end of March than on February 29, the aver­
age increase for the district as a whole amounting to 11 per
cent, and raising the index to 132. This point reflects in­
dividual gains over March 31, 1923, by most of the firms
and indicates in comparison to sales a larger margin of
goods carried than last year. Outstanding orders dropped
during the month from 8.6 per cent of 1923 purchases to
7.9 per cent.
CHAIN STORE TRADE
March retail grocery trade, as reflected by sales of three
chain store systems reporting to this bank, was 6 per cent
larger in total volume than during the previous month,
none of the firms, however, maintaining their March, 1923,
rate of expansion over February. Drug chains likewise
showed smaller increases than noted last year, and musical
instrument sales decreased from both February and from
March, 1923. Total sales for the first quarter of 1924 are
ahead of a year ago for all but musical instruments and one
grocery firm.
M AIL ORDER TRADE
Chicago’s two leading mail order houses reported satis­
factory March business. On account of the late Easter and
the unfavorable weather, however, combined sales averaged
the smallest gain over February in four years, and showed
the first decrease from the previous year since August,
1922. A tendency toward smaller orders is in evidence.
TRANSPORTATION
The steady rise in earnings of Class I railroads during
January and February of this year would indicate that the
railroads are in a stronger position than they were during
the earlier months of last year. Net operating income dur­
ing February was $71,191,600, representing an earning of
6.28 per cent on the tentative valuation, compared with 3.76
per cent for February a year ago; the average for Janu­
ary and February of this year was 5.32 per cent, compared
with 4.70 per cent for the corresponding period in 1923.
The unusual volume o f traffic during the first two months
of this year was sustained during March. The high level of
freight loadings combined with the operating economies ef­
fected by the managements have brought revenues so far
this year closer to the 5.75 per cent rate established by the
Interstate Commerce Commission as a “ reasonable” return.
Purchases of new equipment in March, particularly of
rolling stock, receded considerably from those o f February,
for which month they were the largest since the early part
o f 1923. In each of the first two months of 1924 the num­
ber of new cars placed in actual service substantially ex­
ceeded those retired.
Page 11 May

MONTHLY BUSINESS INDICES COMPUTED BY FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO
(Index numbers express a comparison of unit or dollar volume for the month indicated, using- the monthly average for 1919 as a base, unless other­
wise indicated. Where figures for latest month shown are partly estimated on basis of returns received to date, revisions will be given the following
month. Data refer to the Seventh Federal Reserve district unless otherwise noted.)

No. of March Feb. March Feb.
Firms 1924 1924 1923 1923
Employment—
Iron and Steel Products:
Number Employed ........... 97
Amount of Payroll........... 97
All Industries:
Number Employed ........... 337
Amount of Payroll........... 337
Meat Packing— (U. S.)—
Sales (in dollars)1
.................
Casting Foundries—
Shipments (in dollars).........
Stoves and Furnaces—
Shipments (in dollars).........
Agricultural Pumps—

91.5
92.9

89.9
89.8

92.4
91.6

90.8
83.9

96.9
115.5

96.1
112.6

97.2
111.8

95.5
102.4

63

86.1

87.7

90.3

85.2

29

96.9

82.4

105.0

83.4

19

96.7

82.2

98.6

73.9

(U. S.)—
Shipments (in dollars).........

20

Agricultural Machinery
& Equipment— (U. S .)2
—
Domestic Sales (in dollars).. 131
Exports (in dollars).............. 131
Total Sales (in dollars)....... 131
Furniture3
—
Orders (in dollars)............... 23
Shipments (in dollars)......... 23
Shoes4
—
Production (in pairs)........... 36
Shipments (in pairs)........... 36
Freight Carloadings—
(U. S . ) Grain and Grain Products....
Live Stock ............................
Coal ........................................
Coke ........................................
Forest Products ..................
Ore ....................................... .
Merchandise and
Miscellaneous ..................
Total .....................................
Iron and Steel—
Pig Iron Production:5
Illinois and Indiana...........
United S tates....................
Steel Ingot Production—
(U. S.)5 ..........................
Unfilled Orders U. S. Steel
Corp..................................
Automobiles— (U. S.)—
Production:
Passenger Cars ................
Trucks ................................
Shipments:6
Carloads ............................
Driveaways ......................
^ Boat7 ..................................
Sales (7th District)—
New Automobiles ...........
New Automobile Trucks..
Parts and Accessories.....
Stamp Tax Collections8
—
Sales or Transfer of Capital
Stock ..................................
Sales of Produce on E x­
change— Futures ..............

98.9

94.3

105.8

88.0

111.8
131.0
114.7

96.7
105.6
98.0

125.7
68.6
117.2

89.6
58.9
85.0

140.8 136.4
175.4 141.8

162.2
168.4

140.4
151.7

147.3
158.0

147.7
152.1

179.1
189.7

153.7
159.7

104.7
92.4
100.3
145.2
142.0
31.4

125.4
99.5
116.7
139.7
139.7
25.4

103.6
92.0
112.8
166.5
130.8
36.6

104.8
94.9
114.8
165.0
117.4
25.9

123.1
113.7

114.6
112.9

119.4
113.7

107.3
105.9

152.5
133.3

140.6
126.5

129.5
135.7

124.3
127.6

141.4

134.1

132.9

127.7

79.8

82.0

123.5

121.5

252.1
127.9

243.4
117.6

231.3
131.8

187.8
82.8

259.5
105.9
14.7

249.6
108.5
12.6

215.0
160.5
56.3

172.9
111.1
26.0

177.1
56.5
60.3

119.5
65.4
32.2

133.6
50.7
69.9

100.8
46.0
64.4

148.2

103.5

351.2

267.0

28.9

31.2

52.9

57.6

No. of March Feb. March Feb.
Firms 1924 1924 1923 1923
Electric Energy—
Output of Plants (K W H )....
Industrial Sales (K W H )....

10
10

171.9
177.6

161.5
174.8

156.1
156.4

139.4
143.6

Wholesale Trade—
Net Sales (in dollars):
Groceries .........................
Hardware ..........................
Shoes ..................................
Drugs ..................................
Dry Goods ........................

40
21
7
14
13

69.2
107.4
58.1
100.9
89.1

67.4
85.8
41.3
91.8
91.0

73.1
114.7
86.5
111.2
104.8

69.8
78.8
54.4
93.0
88.6

Retail Trade
(Department Stores)—
Net Sales (in dollars):
Chicago ..............................
Detroit ................................
Des Moines ......................
Indianapolis ......................
Milwaukee ........................
Outside ..............................
Seventh District ...............

9 127.7
6 138.5
3 109.9
4 136.4
5
43
97.4
70 123.2

116.5
130.2
89.9
118.8
117.2
88.3
113.1

133.5
134.4
115.1
155.1
133.0
106.6
128.4

104.7
105.0
80.3
105.2
100.5
73.0
94.9

Retail Trade— (U . S .)—
Department S tores............... 333
Mail Order Houses...............
4
Chain Stores:
Grocery .............................. 32
Drug .................................. 10
6
Shoe ....................................
Five and Ten Cent...........
5
Music ..................................
4
4
Candy ..................................
Cigar ..................................
3

115
106

102
96

124
112

90
84

199
149
118
163
99
181
136

185
143
93
140
97
166
124

189
145
145
162
96
187
135

159
126
72
117
88
133
110

U . S. Primary Markets8
—
Grain Receipts:
Oats ....................................
Corn ....................................
Wheat ................................

86.0
196.3
55.2

99.4
291.9
61.3

99.2
166.8
72.0

82.3
213.3
66.4

78.0
112.3
37.8

71.0
140.9
34.1

94.2
109.2
41.1

72.8
109.0
33.7

101.5

97.5

87.1

75.7

169.2
109.9

112.9
83.3

168.3
108.9

113.9
85.1

G rain S h ipm en ts:

Oats ....................................
Corn ....................................
Wheat ................................
Flour Production—
(In barrels) ..........................
Building Construction—
Contracts Awarded
(in dollars) :
Residential ........................
Total ..................................
Permits:
Chicago ...............Number
C o st.....
Indianapolis .......Number
C ost.....
Des Moines .........Number
C ost.....
Detroit ................ Number
C ost.....
Milwaukee .........Number
C o st.....
Others (45).........Number
C ost.....
Fifty Cities.........Number
C ost.....

42

300.7 163.4 243.5 137.9
307.6 215.3 349.8 319.1
245.9 126.2 231.6
87.8
207.6 254.6 284.1 150.2
202.0 124.5 160.8 118.6
126.8
89.2 193.2 101.4
211.3 116.8 178.9
87.1
256.0 162.8 243.0 105.4
165.6 124.3 154.3 116.7
260.8
77.9 123.6
66.7
71.4 152.7
179.7
60.1
215.4 108.8 188.4
81.4
198.5 105.4 172.4
87.4
256.8 159.9 253.2 165.6

1. Monthly average 1920-1921=100; 2. Monthly average 1923=100 ; 3. Monthly average 1919-1920-1921=100; 4. Monthly average of mean of
production and shipments in 1919=100; S. Average daily production; 6. Monthly average 1920=100; 7. Base figures (1920) partly estimated;
8. First Illinois internal revenue district; 9. Monthly average receipts 1919=100.

Page 12 May





Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102