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Bostic says Fed will support U.S. economy as long as necessary

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic participates in a panel discussion at the American Economic Association/Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) 2019 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry

(Reuters) - The U.S. economy is still under “considerable distress” and the Federal Reserve will continue to provide support until the labor market is stronger and average inflation is on track to meet the U.S. central bank’s long-term target, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Friday.

“We’re ready and able…to support the recovery as long and as strongly as necessary,” Bostic said during a virtual event organized by Stanford University.

The U.S. economy could grow between 5% and 6% this year, Bostic said. But he cautioned that the labor market could face structural changes as a result of the pandemic that may require some laid-off service-sector workers to train for jobs in new industries.

A decline in business travel and increased use of automation could mean that some of the jobs lost during the pandemic will not return, Bostic said.

“We need to do all we can to minimize the long-term damage from the pandemic crisis and to make sure that the recovery is as broad-based and as inclusive as possible.”

Asked if he thought the Fed needs to take action to respond to rising bond yields, which could be a sign that investors are raising their inflation expectations, Bostic said high inflation is not a concern right now.

“Inflation has not been a real stress point in terms of the economic performance for quite a long time,” Bostic said, adding that the Fed will continue to monitor for signs of stronger price growth.

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonya Hepinstall

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