The Federal Reserve has signaled a strong likelihood that it will raise interest rates next year. The central bank has held short-term interest rates at near zero since the depths of the pandemic. But rising inflationary pressures have convinced the Fed that the time to raise rates may be coming soon.

All of the 18 members of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee now project at least one 25-basis point rate hike before the end of 2022. “That it is admittedly a judgment call because it's a range of factors — unlike inflation, where we have one number that sort of dominates,” Powell said.

The Fed’s approach to measuring labor market conditions has evolved under the Powell-led Fed, which has de-emphasized the historic focus on the headline unemployment rate. The Fed chairman even nodded to the Employment Cost Index, a measure of total employee compensation that has reflected notable increases in compensation and wages this year.

Total compensation rose by 4.1% in the third quarter of the year. Those in the lower-paying leisure and hospitality industry saw even more compensation increases (6.9%) Skanda Amarnath, executive director at Employ America, said he is encouraged by the Fed’s willingness to look at many labor market measures.
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