(AP) WASHINGTON - A Federal Reserve survey finds the U.S. economy expanded modestly in June and early July, but growth and hiring slowed in several parts of the country.
The report says three of the Fed's 12 banking districts New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland reported weaker growth. A fourth Richmond said economic activity was mixed.
"Employment levels grew at a tepid pace for most districts since the last report," the Fed's "Beige Book" survey stated. "The Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas districts said employment levels were flat to up slightly, with most contacts citing U.S. fiscal policy uncertainty or weak demand for their conservative approach to hiring. Kansas City said employers were reluctant to increase wages or hire full-time staff until economic uncertainty diminishes."
From mid-April through May, the Fed said growth picked up in 10 districts.
The survey also says hiring was "tepid" in most districts, retail sales slowed in Boston, Cleveland, and New York, and manufacturing weakened in most regions. All 12 districts reported gains in housing.
The report largely echoed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comment to Congress this week and will form the basis of discussions by the Fed's July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.