Fed’s Powell sees US boom ahead, with COVID still a risk

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy is poised for an extended period of strong growth and hiring, the chair of the Federal Reserve said in an interview broadcast Sunday, though the coronavirus still poses some risk.

Chair Jerome Powell, speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” also said that he doesn’t expect to raise the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, currently pegged at nearly zero, this year. He also downplayed the risk of higher inflation stemming from sharp increases in government spending and expanding budget deficits.

“We feel like we’re at a place where the economy’s about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell said. “This growth that we’re expecting in the second half of this year is going to be very strong. And job creation, I would expect to be very strong.”

Powell noted that roughly a million jobs were added in March, when revisions to jobs data in January and February are included. The unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2%. Still, there are about 8.4 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.

“We would like to see a string of months like that,” he said. “That is certainly in the range of possibility.”

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