Fed notes what most Americans see: A sharp economic downturn

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A nearly deserted street at the Village Pointe shopping mall is seen in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, April 15, 2020. U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March as the coronavirus outbreak forced an almost complete lockdown of commerce. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is noting what most Americans are already acutely aware of: Economic activity contracted sharply and abruptly cross all regions of the country in recent weeks as the country locked down to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fed said Wednesday that the hardest hit industries have been leisure and hospitality and retail sales, outside of essential goods like food.

The nationwide look at the coronavirus’ impact on the economy came from the Fed’s report known as the beige book, compiled from information supplied by the Fed’s 12 regional banks. That information will be used when the Fed holds its next meeting, scheduled for April 28-29.

The Fed has already cut interest rates at two emergency sessions, pushing its benchmark rate down to a record low near zero. The central bank has also promised to provide billions of dollars in support to keep the financial system functioning and rolled out a number of programs last used in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

The beige book report said all districts were reporting sharp declines in employment and most districts were seeing declines in manufacturing.

“All districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the report said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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