The Federal Reserve’s decision to cut rates for the first time in more than a decade was driven, in part, by a recognition that policymakers have a role to play in the fate of American workers.
Though the United States has experienced a record period of uninterrupted growth and unemployment is close to a 50-year low, many people have remained on the sidelines or have seen only modest pay increases. By lowering rates this week to help the economy, the Fed could foster a labor market that draws in disadvantaged workers while prodding companies to raise wages.
“The best thing we can do for those people is to sustain the expansion, keep it going,” the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, said after the move. “That’s one of the overarching goals of this move — and all of our policy moves.”
The wealthiest also benefit from the Fed’s decision, since rate cuts push up stock prices, creating big gains for investors. But the central bank’s push to portray its policy as a win for rank-and-file workers highlights an evolution: The Fed is trying to be more attuned to the needs and attitudes of everyday Americans.
Some of the changes are superficial. Mr. Powell, previously referred to as “chairman” in the Fed’s post-meeting releases, is now a gender-neutral “chair.” The 17-member policymaking body is as diverse as it has ever been, with leadership roles held by two openly gay members, five women, one black member and one person with Indian heritage holding leadership roles. The powerful Federal Reserve Bank of New York flew rainbow flags outside for pride month this summer, for the first time.
A visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Instagram account shows that it is following up its #dogsofthefed campaign with a #humansofthefed one, complete with inspirational stories and not-so-candid snaps.
But something more significant is happening under the surface. […]