May 12, 2017 / 4:32 PM / in 9 months

U.S. economy 'normal', labor market healthy: Fed's Harker

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is now “normal” and its labor market is roughly “at full health,” a Federal Reserve policymaker said on Friday in repeating his support for two more interest-rate hikes this year.

“Things are looking good, we’re essentially at normal now and ... I continue to see two more rate hikes as appropriate this year,” Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said in prepared remarks.

“We’re looking at a labor market more or less at full health, with very little slack,” Harker, who votes on monetary policy this year under a rotation, said at Drexel University.

The U.S. central bank has raised rates twice since December and policymakers’ forecasts predict about two more rises this year. Unemployment fell to 4.4 percent last month, less than half the crisis-era high.

Harker predicted the rate would fall to 4.2 percent by the end of next year, and gave a bullish estimate that monthly job growth would average about 200,000 for the remainder of 2017 before easing in 2018.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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