Chicago Fed President Charles Evans—a voting member on the central bank's policymaking committee—told CNBC Friday he'd be patient on raising near zero interest rates and would not make a move before 2016.
He appeared on "Squawk Box" just moments after the release of the December jobs report, which showed stronger-than-expected nonfarm job growth of 252,000. The unemployment rate dropped by slightly greater-than-forecast to 5.6 percent. The already strong November jobs increase was revised higher by 32,000 to 353,000.
The U.S. has seen a substantial improvement in the labor market, Evans said—adding there's been "good, good progress" in the jobless rate. Improvement in the labor market had been a requirement of the Fed before even considering higher rates.
While job growth has been strong, Evans, who's among the most dovish Fed members, said policymakers need to pay attention to the lack of inflation. Prices needs to rise to the Fed's target of 2 percent before he would feel better about the possibility of increasing rates.
Evans pointed to the 5 cent drop in average hourly earnings in the December jobs report—pulling the annualized gain down to 1.7 percent—as "somewhat indicative of the low inflation pressures that we've been seeing." Wages need to rise for the Fed's inflation target to be met, he added.
"It's one of the dilemmas we're facing. And that's why I'm in favor of being patient on raising interest rates," he continued. "We shouldn't be raising rates before 2016."
Evans said he's hopeful that inflation will pick up. "I'd like to have more confidence that we're going to get to 2 percent by 2016. ... 2017 seems like the minimal allowable. To get there, I think we need more accommodation."
"I don't want to get to a situation like Europe is in," he added—referring to the euro zone moving into deflation. "I want to make sure to get U.S. inflation up to our objective. If it moves down, that's a challenge."