Fed's Lacker says unemployment clearly close to natural rate

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said on Wednesday that the current 5.5 percent unemployment rate was well within range of what would be considered the natural rate, a sign that the Fed should hike rates soon.

Some Fed officials have lowered their estimates of the level of unemployment at which job markets would tighten to the degree that wages and prices begin to rise. But there is wide uncertainty over the exact level.

"We are well within any reasonable confidence band," Lacker said.

He said he expected economic growth to end up at around 2.5 percent for the year, rebounding from a weak start to the year.