Fed Report Shows Tightening Labor Market

The Federal Reserve says that the U.S. economy is growing at a moderate pace, and that's putting pressure on the labor market. The Fed's report also said the housing market remains weak.

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The U.S. economy continues to grow at a moderate pace and that's making the labor market tighter, according to a survey released yesterday by the Federal Reserve. The report also said the housing market remains weak.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI: The Fed released its Beige Book Reports, a series of surveys of economic activity in different parts of the country. The report said that consumer spending increased in October and early November and the retail sales outlook was cautiously optimistic for the holiday season. The survey said the only part of the country to report slower growth was the Dallas area.

Almost every part of the country reported a slowdown in housing. Stuart Hoffman is chief economist at PNC Financial Services.

Mr. STUART HOFFMAN (Chief Economist, PNC Financial Services): But there's no sign in here, that even region by region, that other than housing, the economy's moving backward. There's still signs of improvement in the job market, in most areas of manufacturing, and non-residential construction and consumer spending.

ZARROLI: The report confirms the generally upbeat assessment of the economy made this week by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. In a speech in New York on Tuesday, Bernanke said growth had slowed, but he said the slowdown was about he would expect in an economy that's been growing for five years.

Bernanke also seemed to dampen speculation that Fed officials might be ready to cut interest rates. He said the nation's core inflation rate remains uncomfortably high. He also said the decline in energy prices should help prop up consumer spending and keep the economy growing.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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