Economic activity in Ohio and parts of neighboring states remained steady the past six weeks, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The Cleveland Fed, in the latest Beige Book report that is published eight times a year, said Wednesday the regional economy “was steady on balance” since the last report was published. The Beige Book is based in part on interviews with business people and in part with Fed bank and branch directors.

Total employment was steady in the Cleveland Fed’s district, although hiring varied by industry. Wages rose moderately across industry sectors and occupations.

A staffing executive said many clients were raising entry-level wages, and that it is "very strange to see a client offering the [state] minimum wage." Stiff competition for skilled workers led to higher wages in manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services. One manufacturer said that wages were still rising because the employment market remains tight.

Professional and business services firms continued to hire to keep up with strong demand, the Cleveland Fed reported. Some construction contractors added professional and field staff, while the majority did not.

Retail headcounts were steady. Manufacturers experiencing slower sales caused by delayed capital expenditures generally did not lay off workers, with some coping by implementing fewer shifts, reducing overtime, hiring fewer temporary employees, or shrinking by attrition.

Retailers reported modestly improving sales. Retail spending increased modestly in recent weeks. Real estate agents saw increased sales, including among first-time buyers.

Auto dealers reported solid July sales, with one dealer saying that "lease returns and incentives have bolstered sales."

Bankers reported firm consumer lending with lower interest rates driving mortgage and auto loans.

In the Fed's report on economic conditions nationwide, hiring increased modestly in most industries, though manufacturing employment declined in some areas. The survey's findings in the Fed's 12 regional districts will be considered at its next meeting Sept. 17-18 — when economists expect officials to cut short-term interest rates again.

Companies in many districts, particularly in manufacturing, say that the uncertainty created by the tariffs has made it harder for them to expand or plan ahead.

Most drivers of the economy were mixed, the report found. Home sales were limited in most districts because few homes are for sale, even with low interest rates. Consumer spending was uneven, though auto sales grew in most districts. Manufacturing activity declined nationwide compared with the last report.

Companies are seeing only modest price increases for their raw materials and parts, the report said. U.S. tariffs on steel and about half of Chinese imports have raised costs for some companies, but others expect the impact wouldn't be felt for a few more months.

Some companies were able to pass on the higher costs from the tariffs, but manufacturers said they had "limited ability" to raise prices.

Farmers reported a more pessimistic outlook. They are struggling with heavy rains earlier this year and other bad weather, low prices for agricultural goods, and sharply diminished export markets because of trade tensions. China, for example, once a huge market for U.S. soybeans, has largely cut off its market by imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybean imports.

Some parts of the country are reporting negative outlooks. Slightly more business contacts in the St. Louis district expect the economy will worsen for the rest of this year compared to last year, than expect it to get better or remain the same.