The Federal Reserve reports that the US economy grew at a modest rate this fall, with solid gains in consumer spending helping to offset lingering weakness in exports stemming from a strong dollar. However, "New York was an exception, with reports of flat to declining activity among service-sector firms". The Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts, said the USA economy continued to expand across most regions from early October through mid-November. The Beige Book is generally released on the Wednesday two weeks prior to each Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The central bank is expected to raise a key interest rate slightly in response to steady gains in employment and a modest pickup in inflation.
The lack of wage growth has been a problem for the Fed as it looks to increase interest rates. Overall, the beige book found continued modest to moderate growth in the economy. Single family housing construction starts were a bit higher in most districts.
The Beige Book showed that employment continued to expand between early October and mid-November.
Most Fed districts reported higher retail sales, most significantly in apparel and furniture.
Demand for manufactured products was mixed during the current reporting period, with the strong dollar being cited as a headwind to more robust demand in a few Districts. Sixty percent of its contacts reported increasing wages and salaries in order to bring in or keep employees, "particularly those in professional and technical, production, and administrative positions". Manufacturing activity changed little on balance. Seven of the 12 districts reported a tight labor market. The report said that the strong dollar remained a concern for exporters in the Boston, Dallas and San Francisco districts. Separately, consumer spending rose 0.3% in October, up from a revised 0.7% rise in September, while personal income rose 0.6% in October, the fastest growth since April, and up from a revised 0.4% gain in September. Despite the USA labor market nearing full employment, economists have yet to see that spark broad-based higher wages and in turn higher inflation. Those policy moves could boost inflation pressures.