Lockhart Says ‘Slow Employment’ Is Central Policy Issue

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said sluggish growth in the job market has become a central issue for policy makers.

“As you know the Federal Open Market Committee statement yesterday noted slow employment growth and expressed concerns that without further stimulus we might not have enough growth generated to sustain improvement in labor markets,” Lockhart said at a conference on the labor market at the Atlanta Fed.

“I am not going to expound further on the FOMC statement or the chairman’s remarks in his press conference,” he said. “But it is clear the labor market and the outlook for jobs is really front and center in current policy debates” and “remains a very difficult and complex problem.”

Lockhart supported the Federal Open Market Committee decision yesterday to expand its holdings of long-term securities with open-ended purchases of $40 billion of mortgage debt a month in a third round of quantitative easing. The Fed is seeking to boost growth and reduce 8.1 percent unemployment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steve Matthews in Atlanta at smatthews@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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