When the economy falls into recession, labor market measures will be among the last to tell us. We can’t resist watching them anyway, for two reasons. First, we know that the Fed’s self-proclaimed data dependency is unduly reliant on lagging data points, like the monthly employment report. We want to see what the policymakers are seeing, even if that sometimes means using the same, fogged-up rearview mirror.
In an echo of last decade, the Fed has come under fire for keeping crisis-based monetary policies in place well after a crisis has subsided. Predictably, the Fed rationalizes its uber-accommodation by citing the slowest-to-recover data series from a set of figures that already suffer from an inherent lag (labor market indicators).