Jerome H. Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, expressed hope about the US economy in a speech on Monday. However, he stressed that the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have disproportionately harmed vulnerable communities.
“While some countries are still suffering terribly from the effects of Covid-19, the economic outlook here in the US has brightened significantly,” Powell said. And in the United States, “life and livelihood have been affected in ways that vary from person to person, family to family, and ward to ward.”
Mr Powell used the remarks to preview an upcoming Fed report that will show how black and Hispanic workers were more likely to lose jobs in pandemic lockdowns, and how the pandemic pushed mothers out of work and made it harder for people without college degrees to work hold tight.
Among the statistics he highlighted from the Household Economics and Decision Making Survey that he will release later this month:
About 20 percent of adults in their prime years of employment without a bachelor’s degree were laid off last year, compared with 12 percent of those with college degrees.
More than 20 percent of prime-aged black and Hispanic workers were laid off in 2020, compared with 14 percent of white workers.
Around 22 percent of parents did not work or worked less because of childcare and school disruptions.
About 36 percent of black mothers and 30 percent of Hispanic mothers did not work or worked less.
“The Fed is focusing on these long-standing disparities because they put a strain on the manufacturing capacity of our economy,” Powell said. “We will only achieve our full potential if everyone can contribute to and share in the benefits of prosperity.”
Mr Powell said that achieving a just economy was the job of many sections of government, but that the Fed had a role to play in both its economic tools and banking supervision and community development.
“Those left behind in the past have the best chance of thriving in a strong economy with plenty of job opportunities,” said Powell. “We see our solid supervisory approach as critical to combating racial discrimination, which can limit the ability of consumers to improve their economic conditions.”