Federal Reserve Maintains Interest Rate Level Amidst Slowing Inflation

The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5% to 5.25%, noting that economic activity and job gains have expanded since it last raised rates in early May.

The Fed’s priority when raising rates is to help corral inflation and return it to a 2% level. Earlier this week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a relatively steady level for the Consumer Price Index in May, with the inflation rate sitting at 4%, which it noted was “the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending March 2021,” while the Associated Press pointed out that inflation in May was “well below April’s 4.9% annual rise.” However, the Associated Press reported that before 2024, it is likely that the Fed will raise rates at least two more times.

When the Fed raised rates to the 5% to 5.25% range in May, it marked its 10th such action since March 2022. Prior to the May increase, the Fed had already increased rates twice this year, while raising them seven times in 2022. The rate increases began in March and May of 2022, with the Fed continuing its efforts to curb rising inflation in June 2022 by increasing the federal funds rate to a range between 1.5% and 1.75%, which, according to Yahoo Finance, was “the largest move [the Fed] ha[d] made in a single meeting since 1994.” The Fed then followed up with an increase of the same magnitude in July 2022, increasing the target range to 2.25% to 2.5%, followed by another three-quarter-point increase in late September 2022 and yet another in November 2022. The Fed then increased rates for a seventh time in December 2022, although by half a point instead of the three-quarter-point increases it issued in the other actions throughout 2022. The Fed then lifted rates by a quarter point in both February and March of this year.

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