The Fed, short for The Federal Home Loan Bank Board, told us not that long ago that America’s economy was on the rebound and that the surge of COVID-19 delta variants would not that big of a deal. As the cliche goes, that was then. This is now, and now the Fed is admitting, reluctantly, that it underestimated the labor problems that COVID-19 also infect.
September’s jobs report for the Labor Department showcases or far off the Fed’s rosy outlook was. The labor added the lowest number of jobs this year. Even worse, more than 300,000 women over age 20–a major part of the retail market employee bases — dropped off the labor market in September because they either quit their jobs or stopped looking for jobs.
We see those effects here in rural Floyd County as stores close their doors early because they don’t have workers to keep them open. It effects fast-food outlets like Hardees and retail establishments like Dollar General. At Floyd’s Exxon station, its Circle K shop now closes an hour earlier “until further notice.”
At Hardees this weekend, customers in line at the drive-through sat for 20 minutes before an employee put up a sign that said, “We are closed due to staffing problems. “
In Salem and Roanoke, I encountered closed doors on a Friday night after the Glenvar-Floyd high school football game while searching for dinner to bring home to my wife.
Polls of workers show anger over low wages, no benefits and long hours.
Workers who did work for low wages and lack of benefits found other ways to put food on the table and pay at least some of their bills, and now say they won’t return to jobs that payed too little and provided little or no assistance.
“I think there’s a common thread to the mistake in the Fed’s forecast, which is how the pandemic is going to impact the economy even after we got through the worst of it in 2020,” Skanda Amarnath of Employ America, told The Washington Post last week.
Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist and now a senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute, said it was more reasonable for the Fed to back a sunnier forecast before delta’s full toll came into view. But Sahm pointed to one of Powell’s July remarks — when he said “we’ve kind of learned to live with it” — as being out of step with the ongoing reality for many Americans, and at odds with the pandemic’s mounting psychological toll.
“What I felt was misguided was saying it with any authority,” Sahm said. “That just felt way too strong, and way too much of an introspection from a group of people, not just him, who get to work from home. They’ve been able to hire remotely.”
Meanwhile, the missed projections don’t help the Fed as it battles a range of perception problems during the pandemic. The Fed deployed its tool kit in full force last year to rescue the economy, but those moves had ripple effects for inequality and did not serve everyone equally. Meanwhile, the financial trading activity of top Fed officials has spurred an independent review by the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve Board, over whether the behavior violated both ethics rules and the law.
Friday’s jobs report is the last such release before the Fed’s November policy meeting, when officials are expected to officially announce a “taper” of the Fed’s support for the markets. Fed officials have said they need to see “substantial further progress” on inflation and the labor market before scaling back on $120 billion a month in asset purchases.–The Washington Post
Remote working continues at Citizen’s Co-Op, our local telephone and internet provider and one of the county’s largest private employers. Their public office has been closed for more than a year. Other offices are locked with a sign to say “knock” and only those with masks can come in.
The delta variant of COVID-19 is blamed for driving up prices while supplies run short at grocery stores and other retail outlets. As prices went up this past week, topping $3 a gallon, ad stood at $3.09.00 a gallon for regular at most stations.
I paid $2.89 a gallon or regular at a Shell Station in Christiansburg Friday evening on the way to Glenvar to cover the Buffaloes-Highlanders football game for The Floyd Press, but a Fuel Awards account knocked 5 cents a gallon off.
The Fed claims the rise in prices is temporary, but that prediction that claimed the economy would recover, instead of staggering under a continued pandemic.