Reports from twelve districts compiled in the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book suggest that growth in economic activity remained subdued in January and February. Only a few districts reported any notable changes from the last report.

Business spending was soft, with little change in capital spending or hiring plans. Nearly all districts indicated that real estate and construction activities were mixed; residential construction was strong, while nonresidential construction was lagging. Despite describing manufacturing activity as weak or lackluster, half of the districts noted at least some degree of improvement.

Housing demand generally appeared to be strongest for low-and moderate-priced units. Most regions said that net new demand for office space remained weak. Vacancy rates continued to rise, and downward pressure on rents persisted. Most districts suggested that there were few, if any, expectations of a near-term improvement in commercial real estate and building activities.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is a summary of economic conditions reported by businesses in informal surveys conducted by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks around the country, which are referenced by number and name of the headquarter’s city.