The U.S. labor market continues to improve, along with the overall economy, but because wage growth has been minimal, the Fed will likely wait to raise rates. Bobbi Rebell reports.
There's a big catch in the improving U.S. jobs picture: wage growth. Average hourly earnings were up a measly 3 cents last month - keeping it in the year-on-year 2 percent range- where its been for the last few years. And that missing piece says a lot about the economy - and what it will mean for Fed policy. John Canally, Chief Economic Strategist, LPL FInancial: SOUNDBITE: JOHN CANALLY, CHIEF ECONOMIC STRATEGIST, LPL FINANCIAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the biggest concern for the Fed from today's report would be the sluggish wage growth. So we only had 2 percent year over year gain in average hourly earnings. That is one the Fed is watching really closely I think until that can accelerate, the Fed is probably on hold. " But the good news is that other parts of the report were reasonably encouraging. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, because more unemployed workers found jobs, than left the labor force. Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors: SOUNDBITE: JASON FURMAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You'd always love to see more job growth, but 229,000 jobs per month in 2014 is the fastest pace since the late 1990's. It's consistent with a rapidly declining unemployment rate, and what we really want to see is it translating into even larger gains in wages. That bodes well for GDP. Decision Economics Cary Leahey: SOUNDBITE: CARY LEAHEY, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, DECISION ECONOMICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The job numbers are tracking to a much better GDP performance than we've seen. If you just track the two together in a simple graph they'd be shouting 4 percent GDP growth and you are just obviously not there yet" How this translates into the Fed's goals - to eventually normalize policy and raise rates is a delicate task - especially with the financial markets at record levels. Fed Chair Janet Yellen addressed the risks at a global symposium in France: SOUNDBITE: JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This normalization could lead to some heightened financial volatility but as I've noted on other occasions for our part the federal reserve will strive to clearly and transparently communicate its monetary policy strategy in order to minimize the likelihood of surprises that could disrupt financial markets both at home and around the world. More importantly the normalization of monetary policy will be an important sign that economic conditions more generally are finally emerging from the shadow of the great recession. " Yellen also re-iterated her conviction that inflation - which still remains very low - needed to return to normal.