Beige Book: Economic Activity Expanding at a Modest to Moderate Pace

Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the twelve Federal Reserve Districts in March and early April, according to the just-released Federal Reserve Beige Book. The report was based on information collected through April 9.

Consumer spending increased in most Districts this period, particularly in non-auto retail sales and tourism. Auto sales continued to be mixed . Residential real estate activity expanded, although low home inventory levels continues to constrain sales in many areas. Manufacturing and nonfinancial services expanded moderately in most Districts. Agricultural conditions and prices were little changed or worsened on net as some regions reported persistent drought conditions.

Employment was modest to moderate on balance in most Districts. Labor markets once again remained tight, and employers in most Districts continued to report greater difficulty attracting and retaining qualified workers. Businesses responded in a variety of ways, including raising pay to enhancing training to increasing automation.

Modest wage growth was seen in most Districts as upward wage pressures continue to persist. Prices increased at a moderate pace across most Districts. Steel prices rose, sometimes dramatically, due to the Administration’s new tariff. Business in various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and transportation expressed concern about new and proposed tariffs. Several Districts reported higher building material and transportation input costs. Some Districts reported retailers increased prices modestly.

Read the full Federal Reserve report.