No one knows how tomorrow's October jobs report will affect Federal Reserve policymakers' views about whether to start raising interest rates in December. But here are some things to consider in assessing whether the job market is making the "continued progress toward maximum employment" that the Fed wants to see.
Try to think of a policy idea that has the following characteristics: it costs almost nothing to implement; it has the potential to help millions of highly disadvantaged people raise their living standards; it is supported by both President Obama and the Koch brothers. You're envisioning the null set, right?
I've stated repeatedly that a massive amount of stimulus has been required to generate GDP growth of just 2.0%-2.5% annually since the end of the Great Recession (June 2009). We have further said that the removal or reversal of some of these stimulants will be a tough hurdle for the economy to overcome.
For most of its history, the Federal Reserve has been dominated by bankers and orthodox economists, who kill the recovery at the first sign of inflationary risks. Happily, the Fed today is led by Janet Yellen, a very uncharacteristic Fed chair who spent most of her career as a labor economist, of all things. Yellen is aware of the changes in the structure of labor markets and is unlikely to jump the gun on raising rates, though it's always possible that she could be outvoted. The risk today is not that an improving jobs picture will set off inflation. It's that even tight labor markets, by themselves, will not generate enough pressure for wage increases, because workers have lost so much bargaining power.