Jerome H Powell: Recent economic developments and longer-term challenges

Speech by Mr Jerome H Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at the Citizens Budget Commission 87th Annual Awards Dinner, New York City, 28 February 2019.

Central bank speech  | 
01 March 2019

It is a pleasure to speak here this evening at the 87th Awards Dinner. Tonight I will start with the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy. Then I will turn to a topic that is inspired by the Citizens Budget Commission's mission statement, which focuses on the "well-being of future New Yorkers." I imagine that future New Yorkers attending this dinner in 50 years may not look back on the near-term outlook in February 2018 as very interesting or important. So, tonight, after a brief review of the here and now, I will focus on an issue that is likely to be of more lasting importance: the need for policies that will support and encourage participation in the labor force, promote longer-term growth in our rapidly evolving economy, and spread the benefits of prosperity as widely as possible.

The State of the Economy and Near-Term Prospects

Beginning with the here and now, Congress has charged the Federal Reserve with achieving maximum employment and stable prices, two objectives that together are called the dual mandate. I am pleased to say that, judged against these goals, the economy is in a good place. The current economic expansion has been under way for almost 10 years. This long period of growth has pushed the unemployment rate down near historic lows. The employment gains have been broad based across all racial and ethnic groups and all levels of educational attainment as well as among the disabled. And while the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanics remains above the rates for whites and Asians, the disparities have narrowed appreciably as the economic expansion has continued.