US economic activity improved slightly through early July but remained well below pre-crisis levels, according to Fed’s Beige Book

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  • The US economy improved slightly from the end of May through early July as states reopened their economies from sweeping coronavirus-induced lockdowns, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report released Wednesday.
  • Still, the Fed noted that activity remains far below its pre-crisis levels.
  • In addition, “outlooks remained highly uncertain,” for many, according to the report.
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The US economy picked up slightly through early July as states reopened their economies from sweeping lockdowns that began mid-March to contain the coronavirus pandemic, a Wednesday report from the Federal Reserve showed.

“Economic activity increased in almost all Districts, but remained well below where it was prior to the COVID-19 pan- demic,” the Fed wrote in its Beige Book.

The report was conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and included responses from 12 regional reserve banks from the end of May through July 6.

While the report showed that consumer spending, retail sales, transportation activity, and demand for services rose during the survey period, it’s still unclear what lies ahead for businesses and people as the pandemic continues.

Employment also increased on net in nearly all districts as many businesses either reopened or ramped up activity during the survey period.


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Still, many contacts expressed doubt about the future – those who had retained workers with help from the Paycheck Protection Program said that going forward, the strength of demand will determine whether or not they can avoid layoffs.

“Outlooks remained highly uncertain, as contacts grappled with how long the COVID-19 pandemic would continue and the magnitude of its economic implications,” said the Fed.

In addition, the timing of the report doesn’t include any information from businesses or consumers amid a recent spike in coronavirus cases that threatens to further derail the economic recovery. In the last few weeks, new COVID-19 cases have reached record highs multiple times, forcing a number of states to pause or roll back their reopening plans.