Fed's Powell: U.S. economy performing 'very well' though benefits uneven

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at his news conference after the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on interest rate policy in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

(Reuters) - The U.S. economy is “performing very well overall,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in remarks prepared for the opening of a rural housing conference in Washington.

The job market in particular “by many national-level very strong,” with unemployment at a 50-year low, Powell said, capping a week of widespread market nervousness with a reminder that the U.S. economy continues to expand.

Powell’s brief prepared statement did not address monetary policy or the Fed’s upcoming meeting, at which the central bank will decide whether to raise interest rates, and will also release new economic projections for the coming year.

Powell noted to the Housing Assistance Council, a nonprofit that focuses on rural housing issues, that the benefits of the ongoing recovery have not spread evenly around the country but have been concentrated in major cities.

“Some communities have yet to feel the full benefits of the ongoing expansion,” Powell said, with double-digit unemployment still the norm in more than two dozen counties and nearly a third of rural homes without broadband internet.

Reporting by Howard Schneider in Indianapolis; editing by Diane Craft