- “The relationship between the slack in the economy or unemployment and inflation was a strong one 50 years ago … and has gone away,” Powell says.
- “At the end of the day, there has to be a connection because low employment will drive wages up and ultimately higher wages will drive inflation, but we haven’t reached that point. In many cases, that connection between the two is quite small these days,” the Fed chief says.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the relationship between unemployment and inflation has collapsed.
“The relationship between the slack in the economy or unemployment and inflation was a strong one 50 years ago … and has gone away,” Powell said Thursday during his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. He added the strong tie between unemployment and inflation was broken at least 20 years ago and the relationship “has become weaker and weaker and weaker.”
“In additional to that, we are learning that the neutral interest rate is lower than we had thought and … the natural rate of unemployment rate is lower than we thought. So monetary policy hasn’t been as accommodative as we had thought,” Powell said.
Under the Fed’s dual mandate of full employment and price stability, the jobless rate has been historically low, inching up to 3.7% in June from 3.6% in May, which was the lowest since 1969. Inflation, however, has been tame in recent years and consistently below the Fed’s 2% target.