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4/11/2012 3:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Economy Shows Moderate Growth, Fed Says

Beige Book Cites Concerns on Truck Driver Labor Pool

The U.S. economy showed moderate expansion in the past two months, as manufacturing, hiring and retail sales showed signs of strength, though several areas cited concerns about finding qualified truck drivers, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Contacts in the Philadelphia and Cleveland districts cited new federal regulations — including medical certification requirements for commercial drivers — they said have exacerbated driver shortages, the Fed said in its latest “beige book” report, released eight times a year.

Freight transport volume in Cleveland has been trending higher, and truck maintenance costs have begun stabilizing after increasing for two consecutive quarters, the report said.

The Fed cited reports of drivers being hired to meet potential staffing requirements under new federal hours-of-service rules, and said that “some wage pressure exists due to a tightening of the driver pool.”

Primary metals firms in the Dallas area noted that commercial construction projects were a factor behind improving demand, along with solid sales to truck and trailer manufacturers.

The Fed cited a “moderate pace” of economic growth in the Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco districts, while Cleveland and St. Louis had “modest growth.”

Growth “picked up somewhat” in New York, while Philadelphia and Richmond had “improving business conditions.” The economy grew at a “solid pace” in Minneapolis, while Kansas City cited “a faster pace” of growth, the Fed said.

Wednesday’s report, which covered the period of Feb. 18 through April 2, was prepared by the St. Louis Fed.

By Transport Topics

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