WASHINGTON (12/4/14)--All 12 districts tracked by the Federal Reserve for its Beige Book report experienced rising levels of economic activity in October and November, with many districts noting optimistic outlooks.
Beige Book, released Wednesday, is a summary compiled by the Federal Reserve of current economic conditions across the United States.
The job market improved in nearly all districts over the two months, while business spending also recorded improvements nationwide, the Fed said in the report.
"Employment gains were widespread across districts in October and November," the Federal Reserve said. "Several districts noted an increase in temporary staffing as well as an increase in temporary-to-permanent job transitions."
The report also said that several districts continue to have difficulty filling positions in information technology, engineering, legal and health care services, management, skilled manufacturing and building trades, among other industries.
Consumer spending improved in most districts, and several districts said low gas prices will continue to fuel spending.
Lending activity improved overall as well, the Fed said, with several districts reporting aggressive competition on loan pricing and terms or an easing of loan standards.
Further, consumer lending increased nationwide. Several districts experienced continued strength in demand for auto loans, and residential lending ramped up as well.
Residential lending reflected "a mix of new mortgages, refinancings and home equity lines of credit. Cleveland and Richmond indicated that first-time homebuyers continued to face challenges in qualifying for mortgages, although contacts in Boston were optimistic that the new qualified residential mortgage rule would be helpful in this regard," the Federal Reserve said.
Construction and real estate activity expanded overall in October and November, though progress varied among regions.
Residential construction largely picked up across all districts, with multifamily construction continuing to outpace single-family construction.
About half of districts reported an increase in home sales, with multifamily sales again beating out single-family sales. Home prices remained fairly flat as well, the Fed reported.