Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke before a congressional committee Wednesday. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg…)
A survey of the nation's 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks provided a mixed picture on how the nation's economic situation has played out in different areas of the country, though most of the regional banks saw overall growth continuing to "expand at a modest to moderate pace" in the past two months.
The report, issued Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, found that retail sales increased slightly in most areas, housing market reports were largely positive as sales have increased and home inventories declined. Several regions, including California, saw gains in rental markets.
But the brightest spot in the survey was travel and tourism. Several of the 12 districts reported “strong” activity. Hotel occupancy rates were robust in the states that are part of the San Francisco, New York, Richmond, Atlanta and Chicago Fed banks. And the outlook for the rest of the summer looked positive, as hotel and convention bookings continued to outpace last year’s rate.
Manufacturing, however, marked the largest slowdown from earlier in the year, the so-called Beige Book reported. The districts of Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago and Kansas City reported only “slight increases” in production levels. And others, such as Philadelphia and Richmond, reported drops in shipments and orders.
The report echoes some of the comments about the economy that Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke made to Senate and House committees this week.
Since the last report, almost all the districts reported that the pace of employment growth had been "tepid," following state and national reports of weak job growth in recent months, which has sprung fears of a spring stall.
The report, released eight times a year, compiles surveys of economists and market experts that the regional Fed banks do. The information was compiled in June and early July.
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