NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. economy only needs to add between 70,000 and 120,000 jobs per month to keep the unemployment rate steady at 5.1 percent, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said on Thursday, defending her preference to raise interest rates.
Job growth slowed sharply in August and September to a monthly average of 139,000.
"I don't think job growth was as weak as some people think it was," Mester told reporters at New York University. To keep the unemployment rate steady "it's probably now 70,000 to 120,000 depending on what model you have.
"We shouldn't be expecting to see 250,000 jobs a month," she added. "As the economy has improved we expect...jobs growth to slow."
Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Diane Craft