Fed says economy expanding moderately

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Nearly five years after the trough of the Great Recession, the economy is still not booming.

Instead, the Federal Reserve, in its Summary on Current Economic Conditions released Wednesday, described economic activity that is accelerating bit by bit.

Growth all across the country came at a pace the Fed referred to as modest to moderate. Yet, wages have not been growing along with the economy.

The Pittsburgh region is part of the Federal Reserve’s Cleveland district.

Manufacturers in the local district reported that demand was about the same or slightly increased from last year. The aerospace industry, carmakers and companies that supply the oil and gas industries as well as the residential construction markets saw the strongest demand. Steel shipments grew over the last six weeks, and the Fed expects demand for steel to keep expanding through the year.

In the real estate market, new homes were mostly being bought by people who are moving from starter houses to more expensive homes. First-time homebuyers struggled to get the financing they needed, particularly those trying to buy condominiums.

Shopping picked up a little in April after the weather started to warm up, though retailers who sell furniture said their sales weren’t good for either indoor or outdoor furniture. New car sales rose sharply over March, and sales for the year — so far — are higher than in 2013.

In the energy sector, coal production has been about the same as it was last year. Federal Reserve investigators said they had heard a report on a mine reopening in West Virginia due to demand from Europe and China.

In the last six weeks, unconventional drilling for oil and gas was up slightly over the previous six weeks, though wellhead prices for natural gas are down.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

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