US economy hampered by severe winter weather, Federal Reserve says


Dominic Rushe
theguardian.com
March 5, 2014

As parts of America are experiencing their worst winter in 30 years, the severe weather has taken its toll on the US’s economic recovery, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

While cold weather and snow gripped much of the country in January and February, consumer spending was hit across the US, according to the Fed’s latest “beige book” report on the state of the economy; manufacturing and construction were also adversely affected. Weather was also cited as a contributing factor to softer auto sales in many areas. While the unseasonable cold did the most damage in agriculture, California’s record drought has also taken its toll on the state’s economy.

The Fed said hiring had notably softened in regions of the country hit by the severe cold. But the rate at which temporary hires were being converted into permanent hires picked up, and the underlying recovery appeared to be continuing. “Many districts continued to note shortages for particular types of specialized, technical skilled labor, such as healthcare professionals and information technology workers. Atlanta and Dallas also noted shortages for freight truck drivers,” said the Fed.

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