Economic growth continued over recent weeks, but some see a slowdown, Fed report finds

Slight or modest economic growth was reported in most Federal Reserve Bank districts – but a minority acceded that the pace of growth has slowed, according to the latest informal review on economic activity by the central bank.

In its latest Beige Book, based on information collected on or before May 23, the Fed said all 12 reserve districts reported continued economic growth since the previous Beige Book period. However, there is some inconsistency in the extent of growth, as noted by many contacts citing moderate growth, and a minority citing a slowdown.

In fact, the report stated, eight districts reported that expectations of future growth among their contacts had diminished; contacts in three districts specifically expressed concerns about a recession.

The Fed’s Beige Book is published eight times a year, with each Federal Reserve Bank gathering anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its district through reports from bank and branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources, the Fed said.

The book summarizes the information by district and sector. An overall summary of the 12 district reports is prepared by a designated Federal Reserve Bank on a rotating basis; the latest report was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Key points in the latest Beige Book, the Fed said, included:

  • Labor market difficulties tended to be cited by contacts as their greatest challenge, followed by supply chain disruptions.
  • Contacts in most districts reported ongoing growth in manufacturing.
  • Retail contacts noted some softening as consumers faced higher prices.
  • Residential real estate contacts observed weakness as buyers faced high prices and rising interest rates.
  • Rising interest rates, general inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and disruptions from COVID-19 cases (especially in the Northeast) round out the key concerns impacting household and business plans, the book stated.

Beige Book, June 1, 2022