Beacon Journal staff report
Business activity in Ohio and parts of adjacent states grew moderately the last six weeks while overall hiring was sluggish, according to the latest Beige Book survey of employers.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reported that the moderate growth it found in its Fourth District included ongoing steady to robust growth in demand for manufactured products.
The Federal Reserve, which released its Beige Book report on Wednesday, said that reports from all 12 of its districts showed an economy that continued to expand modestly to moderately from early October to mid-November. The Cleveland Fed’s survey takes into account information it received on or before Nov. 22.
The Cleveland Fed reported:
■ Manufacturers seeing the strongest activity were suppliers to the aerospace, housing, motor vehicle and oil and gas industries. Some companies said they were starting to see improvements in European markets.
Defense contractors said they were coping with uncertainty largely over government fiscal issues. Manufacturing production levels were mainly higher compared to a year ago.
■ New single-family home sales declined slightly, which builders attributed to seasonal factors and lower consumer confidence. Builders expect demand for new homes will persist and sales should pick up after Jan. 1.
■ Retail purchase reports during October were mixed, with some retailers attributing flat or lower sales in part to a weakening in consumer confidence. A full-service food retailer noted dollar stores are attracting a rising share of lower-income customers.
■ Temporary hiring for the holiday shopping season is expected to be flat compared to 2012, though one chain reported that it plans to hire about 10 percent more workers this year. Another retailer reported finding it difficult to hire temporary workers for a regional distribution center.
■ Production from the wet-gas regions of the Marcellus and Utica shales grew significantly in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the second quarter. The higher production was largely because of completed pipeline connections and the startup of gas-processing plants. The Cleveland Fed heard one report about plans to construct six additional wet-gas processing plants in West Virginia.
Some oil and gas companies plan to increase spending in the first quarter of 2014 for land acquisition and drilling.
■ Freight executives reported ongoing slowing in the rate of revenue growth. Still, year-to-date shipping volume is higher over the same period a year ago. Freight volumes were expected to grow slowly and steadily.