Monetary Policy Report – February 11, 2014: “The labor market improved further during the second half of 2013 and into early 2014 as the economic recovery strengthened: Employment has increased at an average monthly pace of about 175,000 since June, and the unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent in June to 6.6 percent in January. With these gains, payrolls have risen a cumulative 3¼ million and the unemployment rate has declined 1½ percentage points since August 2012, the month before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) began its current asset purchase program. Nevertheless, even with these improvements, the unemployment rate remains well above levels that FOMC participants judge to be sustainable in the longer run…Economic growth picked up in the second half of last year. Real gross domestic product is estimated to have increased at an annual rate of 3¾ percent, up from a 1¾ percent gain in the first half. Fiscal policy—which was unusually restrictive in 2013 as a whole—likely began to impose somewhat less restraint on the pace of expansion in the latter part of the year. Moreover, financial markets remained supportive of economic growth—as household net worth rose further, credit became more readily available, and interest rates remained relatively low—and economic conditions in the rest of the world improved overall despite recent turbulence in some emerging financial markets. As a result, growth in consumer spending, business investment, and exports all increased in the second half of last year.”
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