The unemployment rate remains a reliable indicator of labor market health, said Jeffrey Lacker, the president of the Richmond Fed, on Thursday. Some more dovish members of the Fed -such as Charles Evans, the president of the Chicago Fed --believe the unemployment rate overstates the strength of labor market conditions, saying it leaves out workers who want to work but are not actively looking. But Lacker, in a speech in Asheville, N.C., said that that an index of underutilized workers developed by researcher at the Richmond Fed has tracked the conventional unemployment rate pretty closely. In his remarks, Lacker did not give his timetable for the Fed's first interest rate hike. He continued to press for the Fed to sell assets, including mortgage-backed securities, as part of its exit strategy. Lacker will be a voting member of the Fed policy committee next year.
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