The information reviewed at the December 13 meeting indicated that U.S. economic activity expanded moderately despite some apparent slowing in the growth of foreign economies and strains in global financial markets. Conditions in the labor market seemed to have improved somewhat, while overall consumer price inflation continued to be more modest than earlier in the year and measures of long-run inflation expectations remained stable.
The unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November, and private nonfarm employment continued to increase moderately during the past two months. Nevertheless, employment at state and local governments declined further, and both long-duration unemployment and the share of workers employed part time for economic reasons remained elevated. Initial claims for unemployment insurance moved down, on net, since early November but were still at a level consistent with only modest employment gains, and indicators of job openings and businesses’ hiring plans were little changed.