U.S. businesses see modest increase in activity, Fed survey shows

(Reuters) – U.S. businesses saw a modest increase in activity and employment generally increased through late August, a Federal Reserve report showed on Wednesday, but economic growth remained sluggish in some parts of the country.

The report highlighted the uneven economic rebound taking place in the U.S. economy, with some areas such as residential real estate surging with the help of low interest rates, but some sectors struggling to rebound.

The Fed’s survey, known as the “Beige Book,” was conducted across its 12 districts from July through late August.

The U.S. economy began to rebound this summer after taking a devastating blow from coronavirus-related lockdowns in the spring. A hefty portion of recent U.S. economic data has surprised to the upside, although newer data sources for tracking the business recovery paint a less optimistic picture.

Nationally, the number of new coronavirus infections is down to about 41,000 a day, from 77,000 in July, but some states are still struggling to contain the virus. Households and businesses also received less federal support in August, which marked the end of a $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits and the expiration of the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to small businesses.

Last week, the U.S. central bank rolled out a sweeping overhaul of how it sets monetary policy, taking on an approach that focuses more on addressing shortfalls in the labor market and allows for slightly higher inflation.

Source: reuters.com

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