Despite overtones of emerging strength, modest to moderate is once again, as it has been all year, the Beige Book's assessment of economic growth. The chief plus is job growth which gets an upgrade to the modest-to-moderate ranking from only modest in the October Beige Book. The labor market continues to be described as tight and, as in October, the report warns that worker shortages are constraining business growth.
Hurricane-related price pressures are cited including higher rebuilding costs. The report notes pass through of increased transportation costs and rising wage and benefit pressures are also cited.
Consumer spending was downgraded in the last Beige Book to slow growth and in this report is described as flat (the report's cut-off date came before Black Friday). Loan demand is described as steady to moderate. Growth in the factory sector is described as wide but moderate with commercial real estate up slightly.
This report is definitely no weaker than the last report but is still restrained in its description of economic growth. Whether no more than modest to moderate, growth has nevertheless been very solid and the risk of emerging wage-push inflation have expectations very strong for a rate hike at the mid-month meeting.
Compiled by the St Louis Fed for the December 12 & 13 FOMC, the report's cut-off date was November 17.