US economy growing nationwide, says Fed

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, overnight. Photo / AP
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, overnight. Photo / AP

All regions of the United States have continued to expand their economic activity, the Federal Reserve said in a report released overnight.

Seven of the 12 regions surveyed recorded growth that was only "modest," while five notched "moderate" growth, the Fed said in its latest "Beige Book" report, based on economic conditions in the six-week stretch before July 7.

The report is the latest to depict the US economy as picking up steam after unusually cold weather depressed activity in the first quarter.

Read the full report here:

The report pointed to generally higher consumer spending, with strong auto sales outperforming other retail segments, which saw "generally modest growth."

"Vehicle sales expanded in most districts, and auto contacts were optimistic about auto sales in the months ahead," the report said.

Labor market conditions "improved" across the US, with all 12 districts reporting "slight to moderate" employment growth. The uptick is consistent with the most recent official US labor market report, which put the unemployment rate at 6.1 per cent in June.

Several districts reported "some difficulty" finding staff for skilled positions. The report cited a shortage of truck drivers in Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta and Kansas City. Skilled construction workers were also in short supply in some parts of the country.

Wage pressures "remained modest" across most sectors, aside from these skilled-labor categories, the report said.

During testimony before a Senate panel Tuesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen pointed to a stalling housing market with disappointing sales.

Wednesday's Beige Book described the US real estate market as "varied," with some regions suffering from weak demand.

Boston, New York, Chicago and St. Louis all reported that residential sales activity softened, the report said.

The July Beige Book report will be used at a monetary policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on July 29 and 30.

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