Comparing the Fed’s views on economy, unemployment

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A comparison of the Federal Reserve’s statements from its meeting Tuesday and its Nov. 1-2 meeting:

UNEMPLOYMENT:

November: There is “continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated.”

December: Fed policymakers are taking a slightly more positive view of the job market now: “While indicators point to some improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated.”

ECONOMY:

Then: “Economic growth strengthened somewhat in the third quarter, reflecting in part a reversal of the temporary factors that had weighed on growth earlier in the year.”

Now: The Fed still sees growth in the United States, but is worried about overseas growth, a reference to Europe’s debt crisis. The statement said: “The economy has been expanding moderately, notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global growth.”

INFLATION:

Then: “Inflation appears to have moderated since earlier in the year as prices of energy and some commodities have declined from their peaks. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.”

Now: “Inflation has moderated since earlier in the year, and longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.”

CHALLENGES AHEAD:

Then: “There are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets.”

Now: A second reference to Europe’s debt crisis: “Strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.”

CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES:

Then: “Household spending has increased at a somewhat faster pace in recent months. Business investment in equipment and software has continued to expand, but investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector remains depressed.”

Now: Fed policymakers see some weakening among businesses: “Household spending has continued to advance, but business fixed investment appears to be increasing less rapidly and the housing sector remains depressed.”