Philly Fed Chief: Workers Need New Skills For Economic Growth

Job retraining and new skill sets are necessary in order to promote economic growth in the U.S., Patrick Harker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, told Bloomberg on Tuesday (Nov. 10).

“The economy will not grow unless we bring people up from the lower-skilled jobs into the middle class,” Harker said during an interview that will be part of Bloomberg’s Friday (Nov. 13) “Strengthening Economic Resiliency: Investing in the American Worker” virtual event. 

“We really need to focus on retraining those people into different jobs as quickly as we can,” he added.

The upended U.S. economy triggered by the pandemic’s lockdowns could lead the country into a permanent state of decline unless the government steps in with job training. Prior to the fast-spreading coronavirus, American jobs were already disappearing due to technical advances.

“Economic incentives given by governments — say, tax credits, or others for job training — make a lot of sense,” Harker said. “I would encourage more of these public-private partnerships through those kinds of tax credits.”

Harker’s remarks are supported by the September job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS) report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of job openings reported was largely unchanged at 6.4 million. 

New hires totaled 5.9 million and job separations, 4.7 million both largely unchanged. Within separations, the rate of people quitting was about the same at 2.1 percent. Layoffs and firings dropped to a new low of 0.9 percent.

On the upside, new jobless claims dropped in October to 6.9 percent, with employment up by 638,000. Comparatively, the previous month’s claims came in at 7.9 percent. The number of unemployed people fell in October by 1.5 million to 11.1 million.

The ADP National Employment Report in September indicated the U.S. was showing signs of recovery, with 749,000 private sector jobs added that month.

The findings complement the Paychex IHS Markit Small Business Jobs Index, which said the Northeast region’s small business hiring came in a little stronger than average, rising 0.36 percent for September.