In early March, Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, provided his semi-annual update to Congress where he expressed a willingness on the part of the Fed to increase interest rates faster, should officials at the central bank deem the action necessary.
After Chair Powell’s remarks came the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and a series of other bank failures that created a level of uncertainty within financial markets. In part, these bank failures were a response to higher interest rates, and later in the month, the Fed opted for a 0.25 percent increase in the Federal Funds Rate.
After comments from the Chair about a faster pace of rate hikes, the quarter-percent increase was seen as cautionary, with the Fed not wanting to move too quickly given the uncertainty in financial markets. Throughout the month, the economy added 236,000 jobs, leading the national unemployment rate to fall by 0.1 percent to 3.5 percent. Now, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that average prices rose only 0.1 percent in March, down from the increases of 0.5 and 0.4 percent seen in January and February, respectively.
Read our full coverage for details on how these events and data points will inform the Fed’s choice to increase rates next month.