WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that the economy was growing at a moderate pace at the start of the year, with the majority of business contacts optimistic about prospects for 2018.
In its latest survey of business conditions nationwide, the Fed said that wages were rising at a modest pace. Some Fed districts were seeing a broader range of industries giving pay raises, especially in areas where employers are having a harder time filling positions.
While 11 of the Fed's 12 regions described growth as modest or moderate, the Dallas region reported robust growth compared to 2017, led by strength in a number of sectors including manufacturing.
With the unemployment rate at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, the Fed report found businesses in most districts dealing with tight labor markets and difficulties finding qualified workers in a number of sectors. The report said the labor shortages were constraining economic growth in some cases.
The Fed's report, known as the Beige Book, will be used to guide discussions at the central bank's next meeting on Jan. 30-31. The Fed in December signaled that it will boost rates three times in 2018. However, some economists believe the central bank will need to accelerate rate hikes this year to keep inflation in check.