By Rob Wile
Amid signs that price growth in the U.S. economy is rapidly cooling, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it was slowing the pace of its rate-hiking program designed to tackle inflation — but that more hikes were still on the table.
The Federal Open Market Committee said it was increasing its key federal funds rate by 0.5%, after announcing four-straight 0.75% hikes at its most recent meetings. In its Wednesday statement, the Fed said it continues to target an inflation rate of 2% over the long term and would continue to increase the federal funds rate to do so.
“Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures,” the committee said.
But bringing down inflation is likely to come at the cost of higher unemployment in the short term: The Fed said it now projects the 2023 unemployment rate to average 4.6%, equating to hundreds of thousands of more jobless workers compared with the current rate of 3.7%.
In response to a question from NBC News reporter Brian Cheung, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that while there could be future potential “pain” caused by higher unemployment, the difficulties Americans are currently experiencing with respect to inflation — and the risk that rapid price growth could continue — warrants keeping interest rates higher for longer.
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