Fed survey: Most areas see slow to moderate growth

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER | November 30, 2011 | 2:10 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy expanded at a slow to moderate pace in most areas of the country over the past two months, according to a Federal Reserve survey. A modest pickup in consumer spending, tourism and manufacturing drove the growth.

The Fed says economic conditions improved in all but one of its 12 bank districts. The one exception was the St. Louis district, where conditions declined.

But hiring was weak in most areas. Businesses in six of the Fed regions said they had a hard time finding qualified workers for those jobs that were open, particularly for high-skilled manufacturing and tech jobs.

The report, known as the Beige Book, covered the period from Oct. 8 through mid-November. The Fed's last survey said most areas reported slight improvement in September and early October.