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US income growth is an 'insurance policy against bad GDP,' White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett says

Key Points
  • White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett says that continued income growth will act as an "insurance policy" that will insulate the U.S. against a global economic slowdown and keep GDP around 3%.
  • Hassett gave his view about an hour after the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls had increased by just 75,000 in May, falling well below expectations.
  • Trump announced Sunday that Hassett would be departing from his White House role at the end of June.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, speaks to members of the media outside the White House in Washington, D.C., April 1, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett on Friday said that continued income growth will act as an "insurance policy" that will insulate the U.S. against a global economic slowdown and keep GDP growth around 3%.

"For sure there is a global slowdown going on," Hassett, who is leaving President Donald Trump's administration at the end of the month, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street. "

"But in the U.S., the thing that I've held onto is — I've refused to revise my forecast throughout the year ... is that income growth is still really strong," Hassett said.

He gave his view about an hour after the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls had increased by just 75,000 in May, falling well below expectations and raising concerns about a weakening U.S. job market. Hassett said "pretty severe weather" may have played a role in shaving about 40,000 jobs off the final number.

Job figures for April and March were also revised downward in the latest report — but the unemployment rate held to its 50-year low of 3.6% and average hourly earnings year over year ticked up to 3.1%.

Average payroll gains so far in 2019 have tumbled to 164,000, compared with 223,000 for all of 2018.

Hassett highlighted that year-over-year wage growth figures have hovered near or above 3% for the past 10 months, the longest such streak since 2009.

"When you get income growth like that, you tend to get lots of consumption growth, and that's kind of an insurance policy against bad GDP," Hassett said.

That "insurance policy," Hassett said, should keep GDP from "getting down below [2%] for the year."

He added: "I think [3%] is still a pretty good sweet spot" to anticipate for quarterly GDP growth.

The U.S. economy expanded by 3.2% in the first quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said in April, topping estimates for GDP growth of 2.5% from economists polled by Dow Jones.

Trump announced Sunday that Hassett would be departing from his White House role at the end of June. The president said in a tweet that a successor for Hassett, "who has done such a great job for me and the Administration," would be announced after he returns to the U.S. from a state trip to Europe.

Hassett told CNBC on Monday that his exit is unrelated to Trump's newest threat to slap 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports unless that country stems the flow of migrants coming to the southern U.S. border.

VIDEO3:3703:37
CEA Chair Kevin Hassett: Tariffs have nothing to do with my departure