WASHINGTON - Economic activity is stabilizing or improving in most of the country, according to a new government survey, adding to evidence that the worst recession since the 1930s is over.
The Federal Reserve's snapshot of economic conditions backs assertions by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and most other analysts that the economy has started to grow again in the current quarter.
In its "Beige Book" survey released yesterday, all but one of the Fed's 12 regions indicated that economic activity was "stable," showed "signs of stabilization," or had "firmed." The one exception was the St. Louis region, which continued to report that the pace of decline in economic activity appeared to be "moderating."
Looking ahead, businesses in most Fed regions said they were "cautiously positive" about the economic outlook.
For the region that includes all of Ohio, the region's economy "has shown a slight improvement" and "reports from factories indicated that production was flat to up slightly, with increases being attributed to new orders."
The assessment of businesses on the front lines of the economy was brighter than those they provided for the Fed report in late July. At that time, most regions said the recession was easing its grip and some of them reported signs that activity was leveling off.
Analysts predict the economy is growing in the current July-September quarter at an annual rate of 3 percent to 4 percent.