WASHINGTON — The economy lost strength in late summer as factory production weakened in areas of the East Coast and Midwest.
A survey the Federal Reserve released Wednesday found the slower growth spreading to more regions of the country.
Of the 12 regions tracked by the Fed, economic activity was mixed or slowed in five — New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta and Chicago. Activity elsewhere was described as modest or pointed to positive developments.
In the Fed’s previous survey in late July, only two regions — Atlanta and Chicago — had reported slower growth.
Reasons for the soft spots varied.
In New York, retailers, especially those in New York City, said sales dropped. Factories production slowed, too. And, both the housing and commercial real-estate markets turned even softer.
Philadelphia reported slower manufacturing and real-estate activity. But retailers’ revenue rose, which explained that region’s mixed picture.
But in Richmond, retail sales sputtered, some factories reported a slowdown in customer demand, and real-estate markets remained soft. A similar trend was reported in Atlanta, where retail, manufacturing and real-estate activity all fell.
In Chicago, a weakening in manufacturing and construction activity accounted mainly for that region’s slower economic pace. Retail sales in that region rose, however.
The overall U.S. economy was still growing in late summer, but there were “widespread signs of deceleration,” the Fed said.
The findings will figure into discussions when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues meet next on Sept. 21.