Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivered a bullish assessment of the U.S. economy and the job market on the eve of the scheduled release of November employment data.
'Our economy is currently performing very well overall, with strong job creation and gradually rising wages,'Powell said in the text of a speech to be delivered to a housing conference in Washington on Thursday. 'In fact, by many national-level measures, our labor market is very strong.'
Economists are forecasting a moderating but still strong pace of hiring in the Labor Department's monthly report Friday at 8:30 a.m. in Washington, despite some job-market data this week showing the potential for cooling.
Powell's comments are his final scheduled public remarks before the Fed goes into a blackout period before its Dec. 18-19 policy meeting, at which officials are expected to raise interest rates by a quarter percentage point fore the fourth time this year.
Investors, though, have reduced their bets on 2019 rate increases amid stock-market losses and heightened fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China. Trading in federal funds futures shows the odds of a rate increase next year have dwindled to less than a single quarter-point move.
In his speech to the Housing Assistance Council conference, Powell said he recognized that not all Americans were reaping the full benefits of the economic expansion.
'Despite positive trends in national data, the benefits of the ongoing economic expansion are still not reaching some communities,’' Powell said.