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Fed's Lockhart: Confidence in labor market is key

Fed's Lockhart: Confidence in labor market is key (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The Federal Reserve should maintain its ongoing bond-buying program until there are clear signs that the public is growing more confident in the labor market, Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, said Thursday. In September, the Fed launched its third round of bond buying -- or quantitative easing, colloquially known as QE3 -- and said it would keep up the purchases until there was a substantial improvement in employment. In a speech in Chattanooga, Tenn., Lockhart said a simple decline in the unemployment rate would not meet this test. In addition to confidence, as measured by people coming back into the labor market, Lockhart remarked that he would want to see increased flows of job seekers into the labor market. There also would have to be gains in people getting full-time work instead of having to settle for part-time work. Falling claims for state unemployment insurance would be another factor, he said.