As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s monetary policy body, announced an increase of 25 basis points in the target for its consequential federal funds rate. Today’s action is only the fourth time since the economy bottomed in June 2009 that that Fed has acted to remove its extraordinary monetary accommodation.
In May, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to a remarkably low 4.3%, the lowest level since May of 2001. In the past, few would have doubted that this was either at or close to full employment, the level below which wage and inflation pressures begin to create growth-killing instabilities.
May saw the first increase in the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) since February. Even accounting for the modest PMI dip in March and April, the progression of the index, since the recent low of August 2016, has been impressive. It suggests sustainability of moderate improvement in factory sector growth.
h the 6,000 new factory-sector jobs in April, manufacturing employment has now increased for five consecutive months, with an average of 14,200 new jobs gained per month. This is an impressive turnaround from a particularly weak period. Overall, this is the most convincing evidence that the broad manufacturing picture is starting to show some real improvement from years of weakness.
Stating “near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) elected to keep the target range for its influential federal funds rate between 0.75% and 1%, after a 25 basis point hike at the March meeting.
This morning’s release of the April manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) adds to rapidly accumulating evidence that U.S. manufacturing is accelerating modestly from the 1% growth rut that it has been stuck in since 2012.
In his campaign, then candidate Trump threatened to “cancel” the Paris Agreement, in which the United States formally committed to reducing GHG emissions 26-28% by 2025. It seems the new administration is ready to make good on its word.
On February 24, 2017, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a significant decision interpreting the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).