Powell warned it will take time to put millions of jobless Americans back to work, while also downplaying inflation threats.
Retail sales soared 5.3% last month compared to December, much more than anticipated, as U.S. families began receiving new federal coronavirus relief checks.
U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs last month, after a pandemic-driven slump in December. Unemployment fell to 6.3%.
The Commerce Department says the U.S. economy grew just 1% in the last three months of the year, as a rise in coronavirus infections weighed on in-person businesses like restaurants.
The U.S. economy is likely to have slowed in the last three months of the year, ending 2020 smaller than it began. But for some companies, business is now back to pre-pandemic levels.
Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Treasury secretary. She'll be the first woman to hold that post and will lead the Biden administration's efforts to address the pandemic recession.
New claims for state unemployment benefits dipped last week but remained high, showcasing the economic challenges facing President Biden.
At her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen warned that without more federal help, the recession would last longer and be more painful than necessary.
President-elect Joe Biden is proposing a $1.9 trillion plan to address the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.
The runaway pandemic put more pressure on the U.S. job market last month. Employers shed 140,000 jobs as the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%.
In the pandemic, a third of Americans struggle to pay usual costs, even some earning over $100,000. But living on the edge financially is nothing new in the U.S. Three households share their budgets.
Jobless claims rose sharply last week as critical relief programs, including expanded jobless benefits, are due to expire the day after Christmas.
U.S. employers added just 245,000 jobs last month as the runaway pandemic continued to weigh on hiring. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9% in October.
The Labor Department likely will report Friday a sharp slowdown in job growth in November as a surge in coronavirus cases weighs on many businesses.
Claims for state unemployment benefits again rose last week, signaling ongoing weakness in the job market as coronavirus infections continue to soar.