New England economy growing, but slowing

The New England economy continues to grow, but not as fast as other regions across the nation, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

The report, known as the “Beige Book,” cited a slowdown in several key areas of the New England economy, including home sales and the region’s important technology sector.

“Retailers cite mixed sales results, manufacturers note slow growth, and software and IT services firms report disappointing results,” the report said. Single family home sales declined in Greater Boston for the first time in 15 consecutive months.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Federal Reserve surveys employers eight times a year using anecdotal information from the interviews to analyze the nation’s economic condition. In Tuesday’s report, it said economies in its most of its 12 districts (Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco) were growing in contrast to the Boston district.

It attributed weaker economic conditions in the New York region to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Economists have predicted a slowdown in the Massachusetts economy. The state’s economy was not as deeply affected as other parts of the nation’s during the 2008 recession, largely due to the strength of the region’s high tech, education and medical industries. More recently, the region has been affected by the economic crisis in Europe, its largest export market, and a subsequent slowdown in demand for goods produced here.

In New England, employers said demand for technology services and equipment was weaker than expected and the were less upbeat than a year ago. Many expressed heightened anxiety about how Congress will resolve year-end tax and spending issues and the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Such uncertainty has “rendered many potential clients unwilling to commit to projects,” the report said.

The survey also found that sales of condominium and single-family homes across New England had slowed in September. Real estate agents attributed the downturn to a dwindling number of properties in the market and “damped confidence” in the local economy.

In the retail sector, sales of adult apparel and home furnishings continued to be strong across New England. And some retailers said they had increase hiring in anticipation of the holiday season.

Manufacturers offered a weaker picture of growth, generally reporting that they are growing due to unusual factors. For example, a manufacturer of medical equipment said spending increases by the US Department of Veterans Affairs had led to a surge in demand for its products.

Many also said their capital plans for 2013 involved spending on projects outside the United States.