By Isaac Cohen*
The central bank of the Unted States left unchanged again the federal funds interest rate, last week, responding to mixed signals, such as strong economic growth, slowdowns in hiring and wage increases, with declining inflation.
According to the Labor Department, 150,000 new jobs were created in October, almost half of the revised figure of more than 300,000 created during the previous month. Despite the slowdown, after 34 consecutive months, in the last quarter job creation remained strong, at 204,000. The unemployment rate in October increased to 3.9 percent, from 3.8 percent in the previous month, while average hourly earnings increased 0.2 percent in October, a yearly increase of 4.1 percent, less than 4.3 percent in September.
By sectors almost all job creation in October was concentrated in services, including the government, healthcare and hospitality and entertainment. In contrast manufacturing decreased, mainly due to strikes among Detroit automakers, recently settled by mutual agreement. Also, after a strike that lasted 5 months, Hollywood writers reached a settlement in September, while other labor stoppages, in companies such as United Parcel Service and Kaiser Permanente, were settled avoiding strikes.
The central bank has left interest rates unchanged at its two last meetings, after consecutive increases since March 2022. This year’s last meeting is scheduled for December 11-12.
*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, TELEMUNDO, UNIVISION, and other media.