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Economy Is Growing Modestly, Fed Finds

Wall Street Journal (11/29/12) Kristina Peterson; Eric Morath

The U.S. economy grew at a “measured” pace in October and November, as businesses dealt with uncertainty over the federal budget outlook and the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Federal Reserve said in its Nov. 28 “beige book” report. Most of the Fed’s 12 districts saw modest gains in hiring and consumer spending, although manufacturing largely weakened. Economic growth in more than half the districts continued at a modest pace.

The jobs market strengthened in more than half the districts, though several areas noted that employers were hiring more part-time workers than full-time ones. The health of the labor market is critical for central bank officials, since the Fed plans to continue buying $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month until the jobs market strengthens substantially. Recent comments from policy makers suggest they do not think the jobs market has neared that level yet.