U.S. Economy Leaves Winter Behind, But Some Weakness Lingers

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Anecdotal evidence recorded by each of the 12 district Federal Reserve Banks showed Wednesday that the U.S. economy is once again pushing forward with its recovery after a tough winter. “Weather” was referenced 119 times in the last beige book report. While that is by no means excessive for a document with a word count running in the tens of thousands, its use confirms what many economic reports also indicated: Frigid temperatures caused U.S. economic recovery a great deal of harm in the early months of the year.

By comparison, “weather” was referenced an almost equal number of times in the the April edition of the beige book report, yet the report still created an anecdotal snapshot of an economy with growing forward momentum. Cold and stormy conditions did continue to dampen growth to a small degree, but Fed economists postulated that labor market numbers and further economic data from April will reveal a rebound as consumers and businesses unleash pent-up demand and hiring accelerates.

Given the anecdotal nature of the report, it is difficult to definitively say the economy noticeably improved in the past six weeks. Once again, the economic condition across the nation was mixed, although in general, the economy began showing signs of a thaw despite remaining pockets of weakness. Between early March and the middle of April, 10 of the 12 Fed bank districts reported that the regional economy expanded, a significant improvement from the eight regions that reported economic growth in the previous report. More specifically, growth was “modest or moderate” in the Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco regions. But the Fed said growth in the Chicago region merely “picked up,” and in the Cleveland and St. Louis regions, economic growth slowed.

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