Workers in December got their biggest raise since the recession ended in 2009, the clearest signal yet that if the Fed's job of jump-starting the economy isn't completely finished, the end is getting pretty close.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her central bank cohorts have bemoaned the lack of wage growth even as the headline unemployment rate has tumbled from a high of 10 percent back in October 2009 all the way down to 4.7 percent last month.
The pattern of 2 percent or so gains through most of the recovery has kept the Fed rooted to its policy of bargain-basement interest rates and, until late-2014, injecting trillions of dollars worth of liquidity into the financial system.
With a seemingly significant breakthrough in wages came talk Friday that it's time to get interest rates back to normal. That was despite payrolls growth of just 156,000 that fell below market expectations for 178,000.
The wage move is "the final piece of evidence to conclude the labor market has recovered, mission accomplished, giving them the green light to accelerate interest rate increases," said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.
"It's also a data point that is to some degree divorced from the political rhetoric," he added. "So much of the talk is, what are the implications of (President-elect Donald) Trump tax policy, immigration policy? This is a real-life indicator that the underlying trends regardless of politics are heading in the right direction. So this is an unequivocal positive both for the economy and the markets."
How the Fed reacts to that, however, is unclear.