The Federal Reserve’s latest report on the nation’s regional economies showed that the pace of activity around the country is picking up, though hiring was limited. The Fed report, dubbed the beige book, will be used for discussions at the Fed’s next policy-setting meeting, Jan. 24-25.
The economy “expanded at a modest to moderate pace” from late November through the end of December on increased holiday retail sales, demand for services, and oil and gas extraction, the report concluded. At the same time, most industries saw “limited permanent hiring,” and the housing market remained “sluggish.” The report may reinforce the views of a majority of Fed officials, who see an economy that’s expanding without being strong enough to reduce joblessness as quickly as they would prefer.
“The reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months,” the Fed says. “The combination of limited permanent hiring in most sectors and numerous active job seekers has continued to keep a lid on general wage increases.” However, the report noted significant pay increases for workers with specialized skills in certain manufacturing and technology sectors.