The Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the economy published by the Federal Reserve, said 10 of its 12 districts saw improvement —mostly of the “modest to moderate” variety — but there was a decline in activity in the Cleveland and St. Louis regions.
This summary fits comfortably with the view of most private-sector economists that activity has rebounded as weather has returned to normal.
The return of the consumer was seen in most districts, as auto sales improved, a situation that harder data, like the retail-sales report, confirms.
Transportation, manufacturing and financial services also improved, though the reports on residential housing markets were “varied.” The Beige Book also talks of delays to crop plantings and shipments of commodities, as well as a pig virus that hurt hog farming.
Labor market conditions continued to slowly improve with minimal wage pressure, and prices were generally stable or slightly higher. In the Philadelphia and Atlanta districts, for instance, companies said they would first make capital expenditures before hiring. IT and trucking were cited as fields where companies needed workers.
The Beige Book is based on information collected from Feb. 24 to April 7, and this one was written by the Richmond Fed.