Governor Lael Brainard
At the "North America's Place in a Changing World Economy," 57th National Association for Business Economics Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
October 12, 2015
Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy
The will-they-or-won't-they drumbeat has grown louder of late. To
remove the suspense, I do not intend to make any calendar-based
statements here today. Rather, I would like to give you a sense of the
considerations that weigh on both sides of that debate and lay out the
case for watching and waiting.1
Domestic real activity has proven reassuringly resilient. Most notably, the labor market has continued to improve this year, pushing the economy closer to full employment. While monthly nonfarm payroll employment growth looks to have slowed over the past three months to a 167,000 monthly pace, so far this year it has averaged about 200,000. With these gains more than sufficient to absorb trend growth in the labor force, they have led to gradual increases in resource utilization. At 5.1 percent in September, the unemployment rate has declined 1/2 percentage point since December. Alternative broader gauges of unemployment--which include individuals who are marginally attached to the labor force and employees working part-time for economic reasons--have also shown steady improvement this year.