(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Governor Philip Jefferson said the US central bank would try to avoid harming the US economy any more than needed as it confronts high inflation.

“The current inflation rate is too high. It is the goal of the Federal Open Market Committee to get it back down to 2%, in a way that is sooner as opposed to later,” he told an audience Monday at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. “It is going to take some time because there are components of inflation that have turned out to be quite persistent — for example, services excluding housing.”

US central bankers are trying to balance their responsibility for price stability at a time of high inflation, and financial stability following the second-biggest bank failure in US history.

“So I would like to say that inflation will return to 2% soon, but we have to do it in a way that does not damage the economy any more than is necessary,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

Officials raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point last week, continuing their year-long fight to cool price pressures despite recent turmoil in the banking system. 

The move lifted their policy benchmark to a 4.75% to 5% target range, from near zero in March 2022. Forecasts released at the same time show the 18 officials expect rates to reach 5.1% by the end of the year, according to their median projection, implying one more 25 basis-point hike.

Economic data through February showed the labor market in robust shape with low unemployment of 3.6%, while consumer spending has been resilient. But the collapse earlier this month of Silicon Valley Bank could potentially hit the real economy by crimping the availability of credit, which policymakers say they will watch closely.

In his speech, Jefferson noted that inflation has started to come down, but it was not clear how much of the decline was due to higher interest rates, or because pandemic-induced supply strains had eased and energy prices have fallen.

“Monetary policy affects the economy and inflation with long, variable, and highly uncertain lags, and we are still learning about the full effect of our tightening thus far,” he said.

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