The latest jobs report has gotten a lot of analysts, policymakers and talking heads once again asking whether the U.S. is at full employment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on May 4 that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, which is the lowest level since December 2000. The unemployment rate includes anyone 16 or older who is actively searching for work in its calculation, which means students, retirees and others not in the labor force are excluded. Continue reading
The U.S. Federal Reserve has a complicated mandate. The legislation governing this agency states the Fed is supposed to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” It does this by controlling or influencing interest rates and controlling the U.S.’s money supply. The Fed has pushed down interest rates close to zero for many years to increase the number of employed people and reduce unemployment. By pushing interest rates down, it has explicitly ignored two of its three mandates. The key question for the Fed is when should it stop focusing on employment and refocus its attention on stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates? Continue reading