Today's Beige Book indicated that the economy continued to grow at a "modest to moderate pace" from mid-February through late March. However, the higher cost of energy is a growing concern.
Manufacturing is a notable positive with gains noted in automotive and high-technology industries. Demand for professional business services showed modest to strong growth and freight volume was mainly higher. Consumer spending is seen as positive with warm weather helping boost sales. New-vehicle sales were reported as strong or strengthening across much of the United States-though the latest unit new motor vehicle sales eased from a strong pace.
Construction is improving although mainly due to expansion in the construction of multi-family housing. Activity in nonresidential real estate increased or held steady in most Districts.
Hiring was steady or showed a modest increase across many Districts. Difficulty finding qualified workers, especially for high-skilled positions, was frequently reported. Upward pressure on
wages was constrained. Overall price inflation was modest. However, contacts in many Districts commented on rising transportation costs due to higher fuel prices.
Overall, the Beige Book showed continued forward momentum although at a modest to moderate pace.