Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, speaking at the New York Economic Club on Nov. 181128.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy looks strong, but the central bank is continuing to find ways to fight poverty.
Speaking on Tuesday in Mississippi,
Powell said the central bank is looking at a number of ways to help
rural communities, with a particular focus on banking and finance for
areas of need.
“Today, data at the
national level show a strong economy. Unemployment is near a
half-century low, and economic output is growing at a solid pace. But we
know that prosperity has not been felt as much in some areas, including
many rural places,” he said in remarks to the Hope Enterprise
Corporation Rural Policy Forum in Itta Bena.
As he has in the recent past,
the Fed chair focused on the importance of getting more Americans
involved in the working population. His remarks did not touch on
The U.S. labor force
participation rate is at 63.2 percent currently, about half a percentage
point above where it was at the beginning of 2019, but lags behind most
other industrialized countries. The nation ranked 101st in the world in
that category, according to 2018 World Bank statistics.
With an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, Powell
said the U.S. is generally considered near “maximum employment.” But he
said that’s not the case everywhere.
“There are pockets of
regions and demographics all over the country who are not at maximum
employment,” Powell said. “So the obvious way to grow the size of the
economy is to bring people into the economy are on the edge of it.”
Powell pledged that the
Fed is committed to programs like the Community Reinvestment Act that
are aimed at getting development funds to areas in need. He also cited
the importance of equal education opportunities and workforce training.
From the Fed’s more
immediate perspective, he said it is looking at tailoring regulations to
make sure local banks aren’t constrained in providing finance to those
who need it, both personally and on an entrepreneurial level.