Accessing Credit has Become Harder, Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book Shows

Businesses across the country said banks have tightened their lending standards since last month’s banking crisis, according to an economic survey from the Federal Reserve released Wednesday.

Overall economic activity held steady in recent weeks, with nine of the central bank’s 12 regional districts reporting no change, or slight growth; and three others reporting modest gains. The report captures the effects of last month’s banking turbulence on businesses and banks themselves.

Consumer spending, manufacturing activity and construction activity were either flat or down slightly this spring, businesses said. Tourism activity was a bright spot in recent weeks, with several firms reporting a notable pick-up.

Conditions in the jobs market improved; fewer businesses reported mass layoffs and more businesses said it has become easier to hire and that employee retention has improved. That coincides with government figures showing that the U.S. labor market has lost some steam recently, though it remains strong. Some firms also said that the pace of price increases has slowed.