Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the U.S. central bank was on track to keep reducing its policy stimulus, even as she acknowledged the labor market recovery was “far from complete.”
In her first public comments as Fed chief, Yellen said the central bank would need to keep its eye on a broad range of labor market indicators, not just the unemployment rate, as it continued to assess the health of the jobs market.
Yellen, in testimony prepared for delivery to a congressional committee, nodded to the recent volatility in global financial markets, but said at this stage it does “not pose a substantial risk to the U.S. economic outlook.”
She emphasized continuity in the Fed’s policy strategy, saying she strongly supports the approach driven by her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. Under Bernanke, the Fed bought trillions of dollars worth of bonds to drive long-term borrowing costs lower. In December, it started to scale back its latest asset purchase program.
While the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen by 1.5 percentage points since the latest bond-buying program began in September of 2012, at 6.6 percent the rate remains “well above levels” the Fed sees as consistent with maximum sustainable employment, Yellen said.
“(T)he recovery in the labor market is far from complete,” she told the House Financial Services Committee.