• Beige Book: Expansion pace ‘split between modest and moderate’
  • Wage gains broaden while prices rise modestly, report says

The economy continued to grow across the U.S. at a modest-to-moderate pace in recent weeks as a tight labor market helped broaden wage gains, though consumer spending was mixed, a Federal Reserve survey showed Wednesday.

The central bank’s Beige Book economic report, based on anecdotal information collected by regional Fed banks covering mid-February through the end of March, showed that household purchases outside of automobiles were softer even as Americans were gaining more wherewithal for future spending.

The report paints a picture of an economy maintaining its steady expansion, without a rapid pickup that would reflect the surge in confidence among consumers and businesses. At the same time, underlying growth might not be as weak as some estimates indicate, such as the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast showing a 0.5 percent pace of gross domestic product gains in the first quarter, following the previous period’s 2.1 percent rate.

The pace of expansion was “equally split between modest and moderate” across the 12 Fed regions, the report said. “In addition, the pickup was evident to varying degrees across economic sectors.”

Wages showed progress in responding to a tightening jobs market, with most districts reporting “difficulty filling low-skilled positions” and stronger demand for higher-skilled workers. A larger number of businesses also reported high turnover rates and challenges retaining staff, according to the latest Beige…