Powell says labor market still has slack

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Powell says labor market still has slack
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies as he gives the semiannual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee, Thursday, March 1, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee (all times local):

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10:50 a.m.

Powell says that he believes there is still slack in the labor market that will allow the Federal Reserve to move gradually to raise interest rates even though the overall unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

Powell pointed to the fact that participation in the labor force for men at the prime working age is still a full percentage point below where it was before the Great Recession began. He says the modest increases in wages also showed that there is still slack in the job market.

Powell says that he believed the labor market can strengthen further without causing an acceleration in inflation.

Powell’s comments came during his second day of congressional testimony in delivering the Fed’s semi-annual monetary report.