WASHINGTON (9/4/14)--All 12 districts tracked by the Federal Reserve in its most recent Beige Book, a commentary on the state of the economy, released Wednesday, saw modest to moderate growth, with only housing continuing to scuffle.
"However, none of the districts pointed to a distinct shift in the overall pace of growth" since the previous report was released on July 16, the Fed said.
Thanks in large part to spending on essentials such as back-to-school and home improvement goods, and clothing, most districts experienced a rise in consumer spending, with a rate of growth ranging from slight to moderate throughout the country (Economy.com Sept. 3).
Residential real estate activity slightly expanded or held steady in only about half of the 12 districts, mostly fueled by sales of existing homes and construction of new homes.
The financial services industry, however, appears to be on the upswing since the release of the previous Beige Book, with loan volumes increasing in nearly all 12 districts, driven by auto loans.
Loan demand climbed in eight out of 12 districts, while six districts reported improving credit quality, falling delinquency rates or both.
"Most districts report an increase in demand for business credit, with some districts reporting an increase in commercial and industrial lending," said Christopher Velarides, Moody's analyst (Economy.com). "Credit quality continues to improve, and credit standards remain unchanged."
As for the labor market, upward gains remained modest compared with the previous Beige Book period. Though, firms in nearly all districts reported challenges in finding specific kinds of skilled labor.
The industries particularly in need of skilled laborers include information technology, truck driving and construction.
Still, staffing agencies relay that as a whole the job market continues to bolster, according to Moody's.