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What's Holding Back the Economy? Fed Says the Weather

It's official: The series of winter storms that have plagued the nation since December and have even lifted our level of misery, also acted like a drag on the economy in many regions of the U.S., a Federal Reserve survey showed Wednesday.

Severe weather across much of the United States took a toll on shopping and consumer spending in recent weeks, leading to slower economic growth or outright contraction in some areas, the Fed said.

The word "weather" is used 119 times in the report, compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta from data collected before Feb. 24, and "snow" or a derivative of snow is used 24 times. The word "ice" appeared twice.

The Federal Reserve is seen during a snow storm. Severe winter weather hit economic activity in January and early February, the central bank said.
The Federal Reserve is seen during a snow storm. Severe winter weather hit economic activity in January and early February, the central bank said.KAREN BLEIER / AFP - Getty Images

Eight of the Fed's 12 regions reported improved activity, according to the Beige Book survey. The improvement was depicted as "modest to moderate."

New York and Philadelphia, two regions hard hit by winter storms, reported a dip in activity attributed to the weather. Retail sales, including auto purchases, were depressed. So was manufacturing. Factories reported power outages and delayed deliveries of supplies.

The Beige Book is based on anecdotal reports from businesses and will be considered with other data when the Fed meets March 18-19.

-- Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.