Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across most of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts over the period from early April through late May, according to the just-released Federal Reserve Beige Book.
Consumer spending softened this period as reports of stagnant nonauto retail sales were accompanied by lower readings in auto sales compared to last year’s record highs. Manufacturing continued to expand at a moderate pace across the Districts. Non-financial services continued to expand steadily while agricultural conditions were mixed with some regions noting that unusually wet weather delayed planting. A majority of Districts reported that firms expressed positive near-term outlooks, but optimism slowed somewhat in a few Districts.
Employment expanded across most Districts at a modest to moderate pace. Labor markets once again remained tight, and employers in most Districts reported having greater difficulty attracting and retaining qualified workers.
Modest to moderate wage growth was seen in most Districts, with many reporting offering higher wages to fill the worker shortages. Prices increased modestly, though some Districts cited falling prices for certain final goods, including groceries, apparel, and autos.