Beige Book Reports Improved Economic Activity

Among the improved sectors of the economy, health care services were in high demand across the country, and four districts reported that construction activity and bank lending for health care providers was on the rise.

At the end of 2011 economic conditions improved slightly in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve. The Beige Book, which surveys the Fed’s 12 districts, was released Wednesday, announcing that economic activity “expanded at a modest to moderate pace.”

“Compared with prior summaries, the reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most Districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall,” the Fed wrote.

The last report, released in mid-November, reported that districts were growing at a slow pace. In the latest report, which covers the mid-November to the end of the year, New York and Chicago reported “a pickup in the pace of growth,” while the majority of districts said growth was “modest.”

According to the Beige Book, the health care sector reported growth for the most part. Construction activity and bank lending for health care providers was on the rise in Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis. Although there was a general growing demand for health care services, San Francisco was the exception with an ongoing decline in hospital admissions.

There was an increased loan demand by businesses, which lead to lending activity being on the rise. No districts reported a decline in loan demand, although most districts had little or no change in overall demand. New York and Cleveland reported pronounced increases in demand for commercial mortgages.

To read the entire report, go here.