As reported in the Fourth District Beige Book published by the Federal Reserve reported that economic activity declined slightly in the past six weeks. The severe winter weather appears to have negatively impacted business activity to a heightened degree; some producers and service providers are still experiencing lingering effects. Demand for manufactured products grew at a slow rate. Building contractors reported that their pipelines remained active, while field work slowed. Retailers and auto dealers experienced disappointing sales during February and into March. In the energy sector, shale gas production stayed at a high level, while coal output trended lower. Freight volume declined.
Demand for business and consumer credit moved higher. Hiring was sluggish across industry sectors. Reports by staffing-firm representatives on the number of job openings and placements were mixed, with job vacancies found primarily in manufacturing and healthcare. Wage pressures are contained. Input and finished goods prices saw little change, apart from increases in metals, building materials, and diesel fuel.
Source : Cushman & Wakefield