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Fed’s Latest Beige Book Paints a More Upbeat Picture of Economy

Los Angeles Times (06/07/12) Don Lee

The Federal Reserve’s latest beige book released on June 6 paints a surprisingly upbeat picture of a U.S. economy continuing to improve at a moderate pace. Manufacturing in most areas is seen as expanding nicely, travel and tourism are strengthening, and the housing market is finally showing more signs of recovery. “Hiring was steady or showed a modest increase” since the previous beige book issued eight weeks ago, according to the summary of the report.

Recent economic data indicating slowing job creation, softer car sales, and weakening factory orders point to a U.S. economy that has lost considerable momentum this spring. But Wednesday’s beige book suggests that the economy may not be as bad as the recent string of economic data indicate.

On employment, the beige book showed reports of hiring, most notably in manufacturing, construction, information technology, and professional services. The only significant hint of a weakening job market in the survey came from the Fed’s Chicago district, where hiring was said to be “limited,” due in part to difficulties finding qualified workers.