WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Economic growth remained steady (i.e. nearly unchanged) across the United States from July through late August, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, an overview of the business conditions in each of the Fed’s 12 Districts.
The report showed all 12 districts reported sluggish to moderate growth. That’s roughly in line with the Fed’s previous survey of those districts from late May through early July.
Better financing options helped boost demand for new cars and trucks in most districts, with many reporting decent sales.
The beige book said that job growth remained “steady” and that hiring in manufacturing saw a slight uptick, especially at auto and auto-parts factories. But the Kansas City and San Francisco districts also complained federal spending cuts had caused production cutbacks at some defense plants.
The Fed survey is based on anecdotal reports from businesses gathered by the Fed’s regional banks. The information was gathered for the Fed’s next meeting on Sept. 17-18.
The overall economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter. Many analysts believe that growth in the July-September quarter will decline to a rate of approximately 2 percent.
Some economists believe growth and hiring are strong enough for the Fed to begin slowing its bond purchases at the September meeting. Others say the Fed may hold off at that meeting because they want to see more data. The $85 billion a month in purchases of Treasury and mortgage bonds have kept long-term interest rates low.
The Fed survey found that auto dealerships across the country were optimistic about sales of both new and used cars for the rest of this year. Several districts also noted slight growth in manufacturing activity, including Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco.
In addition to autos, consumers stepped up purchases of products related to home sales, the beige book noted. Home sales continued to rise in many areas. And some districts noted that recent increases in home price mortgage rates were spurring “fence sitters” to close deals out quickly.
Lastly, the Fed report also noted that workers are seeing limited pay increases.
Here a copy of the survey:
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter