Time to Put the Brakes on Jobs?

Should the Fed continue raising interest rates?

After several rate increases and with unemployment at a 17-year low, Fed officials face the question of whether joblessness might fall so much that they should pick up the pace of tightening to prevent the economy from overheating. The latest employment report released Friday by the Labor Department doesn’t suggest they need to move more aggressively or slow down. Employers added 148,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose 2.5% from a year ago, in line with recent monthly readings.

Goodness. We wouldn’t want joblessness to fall too low, would we? That might force employers to pay people more!

If the Fed wants to raise rates because they think they need to keep their powder dry for the next recession, I can buy that. Maybe. But the only reason to worry about unemployment getting too low is a fear that it will push up inflation. And there’s precisely no reason to fear that inflation is about to pick up. Someday there might be, but that day is not today, not anytime in the past two decades, and unlikely to be anytime in the next few years either:

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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