Modest economic growth at beginning of 2014

Despite a harsh winter, the economy posted positive gains at the beginning of the year, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report. Of the 12 districts the Fed tracks, eight showed economic expansion from January to the beginning of February. However, some major cities saw declines in overall activity, such as New York and Philadelphia.

Although several industries across the country reported growth, the Beige Book said much of it was modest at best. The manufacturing industry was hit hard by the weather as the Beige Book reported nine districts had negative sales and production growth from January through early February. The services industry posed the slowest economic growth in four years during this time frame, according to the Fed.

The real estate and construction industry had some of the most positive growth as several districts recorded increased home sales, increased new home construction and rising home prices.

The Beige Book report will help the Fed determine whether it will continue to cut it's bond buying stimulus program. Eric Green, head of rates, FX and commodity research at TD Securities, said in an interview with Bloomberg the reports from the Fed's 12 district banks will play a role in shaping the economy.

"This has some value precisely because it provides more anecdotal evidence, a more concrete rationale, in support of the slowdown being weather-induced," Green said.

Even though much of the economic expansion at the beginning of the year was small, Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's, believes the economy will improve over next few months.

"Once warm spring weather arrives and our full assortment of fresh spring merchandise is in place, we believe customers will return to a more normalized pattern of shopping," Lundgren said in an interview with Bloomberg.

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