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Fed Chief Powell: Economy at a Turning Point

U.S. gets boost from vaccines, stimulus, but risks remain.
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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Sunday that the U.S. economy is at a turning point, as vaccines and stimulus roll out and more Americans land jobs -- but that the nation isn't out of the woods yet.

"I would say this. What we're seeing now is really an economy that seems to be at an inflection point," said Powell in a preview Sunday of the "60 Minutes" show he will appear in at 7 p.m. ET on CBS. An excerpt of the interview appeared on "Face the Nation" and TheStreet was given a transcript of that excerpt. 

The Fed chair will discuss on "60 Minutes" the effectiveness of attempts by the Federal Reserve and Congress to offset the pandemic’s harm to workers and businesses, as well as inflation and other topics.

"We feel like we're at a place where the economy's about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly," said Powell.

He added that widespread vaccination for COVID-19 and strong fiscal and monetary policy support from the federal government were all boosting the nation's economic engine.

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A total of 916,000 jobs were added in March, according to recent government figures, topping estimates by a quarter million. Big gains in employment came from industries that were hard hit by pandemic restrictions and fear of going out. Entertainment, leisure, hotels and restaurant businesses all saw increases

But the nation still has fewer jobs than it did just before the pandemic panic of last winter. 

Meanwhile, nearly one in five U.S. adults has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to numbers by Johns Hopkins University. 

Despite the successes, however, the number of new infections remains a concern. The U.S. saw 66,533 new diagnoses on Saturday of COVID-19 and several states, such as Michigan, are seeing and upward swing in cases, according to Johns Hopkins.

"The principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again," said Powell. "It's going to be smart if people can continue to socially distance and wear masks."