Economy Continues to Expand, Fed Says
The U.S. economy continued to expand from early January to late February, with reports on transportation services mixed as severe weather disrupted supply chains, the Federal Reserve said.
The economic outlook remains optimistic in most of 12 Federal Reserve districts, but increases tended to be modest to moderate, the Fed said in its latest Beige Book report released March 5.
In the Cleveland district, freight executives reported that it is difficult to gauge changes in shipping volume due to weather-related supply chain disruptions. However, they said they believe volume has risen slightly year-over-year.
A steel industry contact in the Chicago district reported there were seven days in the past six weeks when his firm could not send shipments, a first in his 35 years of experience, according to the report.
The district also reported shortages of trucks and drivers to deliver inventories from the large harvest last fall.
In the Kansas City district, transportation companies reported stronger sales in February, and contacts were increasingly optimistic about future activity. Transportation industry contacts in the district said they expected the largest wage gains in the coming months.
In the Atlanta district, transportation firms reported mixed results. Port contacts reported year-over-year volume increases in container traffic, bulk cargo, and automotive and machinery. Total rail carloads were down slightly over the same period last year; however, intermodal volumes continued to experience modest gains. The district also reported trucking companies continued to cite driver shortages even as pay rose.
In Dallas, some transportation firms said they expected increases in shipping rates in coming months due to higher fuel costs.
The Fed releases its beige book report eight times a year. Wednesday’s report, which covered the period of Jan. 7 through Feb. 24, was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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