The still-robust U.S. economy and tight labor market could mean further interest rate hikes, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday, Reuters (subscription) reports.
What’s going on: “We are attentive to recent data showing the resilience of economic growth and demand for labor,” Powell said during a talk at the Economic Club in New York. “Additional evidence of persistently above-trend growth, or that tightness in the labor market is no longer easing, could put further progress on inflation at risk and could warrant further tightening of monetary policy.”
- The Fed’s aim in raising rates has been to reduce inflation to 2%.
- Since it began raising rates in March 2022, however, unemployment has stayed largely steady, and “economic growth has generally remained above the 1.8% annual growth rate Fed officials see as the economy’s underlying potential.”
A delicate balance: While Powell said there is evidence of a cooling labor market, the Fed must account for new “uncertainties and risks”—including the Hamas–Israel war—as it seeks “to balance the threat allowing inflation to rekindle against the threat of leaning on the economy more than is necessary.”
- Data since the central bank’s last meeting, in September, have shown unexpected U.S. job growth and surprisingly strong retail sales, “offering inconsistent signals about whether inflation is on track to return to the Fed’s 2% target in a timely manner.”
Hike likely: Most Reuters-polled economists expect the Fed to raise interest rates at its next meeting on Oct. 31–Nov. 1.