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The Federal Reserve is discussing how to scrap its 6.5% unemployment rate threshold for the first hike in short-term interest rates, said Charles Evans, the president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, on Monday. In a speech and comments to reporters, Evans said the next stage in guidance is likely to focus on several factors not just one data point. A number of Fed officials have backed changing the guidance to a more "qualitative" approach in recent weeks. Evans's comments are important because he was the architect of the 6.5% rate threshold plan. Evans said he did not think the first rate hike would come until 2016. Evans is not a voting member of the Fed's policy committee this year. That committee will meet on March 18-19. Evans said the weather has added uncertainty about the economy but said he is still optimistic that the U.S. will be able to achieve a 2.5% to 3% annual growth rate this year.