U.S. Economy Seeing 'Slight to Modest' Growth This Fall, Fed Says -- Update
By David Harrison
The U.S. economy grew at a "slight to modest" pace in the early
fall, the latest indication that the economic recovery from the
pandemic is slowing, a Federal Reserve report said Wednesday.
The report found that the recovery was proceeding on separate
tracks, with the manufacturing, residential housing and banking
industries reporting steady growth, while consumer spending and
commercial real estate remained weak.
For instance, home builders in the Dallas region said high
demand had produced backlogs of work and raised prices. Workers and
supplies -- particularly appliances and windows -- were in short
The picture was less rosy in commercial real estate. A toy maker
in the Boston area was rethinking its need for office space now
that employees have been working successfully from home.
The report, known as the Beige Book, is a collection of
anecdotes from business contacts around the country. The Fed
collected comments through Oct. 9.
Companies said they were "generally optimistic or positive"
about the future but noted that there was still a lot of
uncertainty in their outlook, in particular in regards to
The report painted a picture of a disjointed employment
situation, where many companies continued to lay off some workers
while also struggling to recruit others. Employers blamed the labor
situation on employee health concerns and on a lack of access to
child care. Many companies have raised wages or offered flexible
work arrangements in response.
One retailer in the Boston area was simultaneously furloughing
some employees while raising pay for warehouse workers to attract
new recruits during the holiday season.
In the Richmond region, one employer was having a hard time
finding people for its lower-paid hourly positions, the report
"Many businesses said that they were offering flexible
scheduling and remote work opportunities to workers with children
schooling at home," the report said.
The report also showed diverging views on the expiration of the
additional unemployment benefits at the end of July. Employers in
the Cleveland area said they saw no increase in the number of
available workers after the government at the end of July stopped
sending an additional $600 a week to unemployed workers.
But businesses in the Atlanta area said the end of the extra aid
"had begun to improve the supply of workers for lower-skilled
positions," according to the report.
Consumer prices for most goods rose modestly throughout the
country, the report said, with some exceptions. High demand and low
inventory pushed up prices for automobiles and appliances, while
the California wildfires helped raise food prices
Write to David Harrison at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 21, 2020 16:46 ET (20:46 GMT)
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