Comparing the Fed’s views on unemployment, Europe

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A comparison of the Federal Reserve’s statements from its meeting Tuesday and its two-day meeting Jan. 24-25:

UNEMPLOYMENT:

January: “While indicators point to some further improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated.”

March: The Fed has upgraded its assessment: “Labor market conditions have improved further; the unemployment rate has declined notably in recent months but remains elevated.”

ECONOMY:

Then: The Fed’s policymaking committee “expects economic growth over coming quarters to be modest …”.

Now: The Fed appears to have ever-so-slightly upgraded its outlook for growth to “moderate” from “modest”: The committee “expects moderate economic growth over coming quarters…”.

SPENDING:

Then: “Household spending has continued to advance, but growth in business fixed investment has slowed, and the housing sector remains depressed.”

Now: The Fed says businesses are spending more: “Household spending and business fixed investment have continued to advance.”

EUROPEAN DEBT CRISIS:

Then: “Strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.”

Now: This is also a more optimistic view: “Strains in global financial markets have eased, though they continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.”

INFLATION:

Then: Fed policymakers anticipate “that over coming quarters, inflation will run at levels at or below those consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.”

Now: The central bank acknowledges the threat from rising prices at the pump: “The recent increase in oil and gasoline prices will push up inflation temporarily, but the Committee anticipates that subsequently inflation will run at or below the rate that it judges most consistent with its dual mandate.”