Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said the US labor market is cooling this year without there being a big spike in unemployment as the economy has returned to a better balance between the supply and demand for workers.
“It’s slowing down,” Waller said in a speech in St. Louis. “We’re looking at the labor market, we’re seeing it normalized” and getting into “better balance between supply and demand.”
Waller made his comments following signs the labor market has shown of easing. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 150,000 last month following a downwardly revised 297,000 gain in September, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed Friday. The unemployment rate climbed to 3.9%, and monthly wage growth slowed.
The Fed governor pointed out that the ratio of job openings to the number of unemployed workers has come down in recent months.
“What we’ve seen since May ‘22, vacancies have kind of come down and the unemployment rate is still very, very low,” he said.
Waller didn’t comment on his outlook for monetary policy.
The Federal Open Market Committee held interest rates at a 22-year high for a second straight meeting last Wednesday. Chair Jerome Powell told reporters in a press briefing that it’s an open question whether the central bank would need to hike again, and that the Fed is “proceeding carefully,” an assessment that’s often suggested a reluctance to move rates in the near term.