U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to use the power of the Federal Reserve to help close the racial employment and wage gaps in the United States and issue progress reports on existing inequalities.
Gillibrand is backing a bill with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would use the central bank's regulatory authority to address disparities in employment and wages, which have been made worse during the pandemic, she said.
“Not only did the pandemic reveal the substantial racial gaps in our economy, but its disproportionate harmful impact on communities of color deepened the divide, especially in our financial system,” she said in a statement. “As we rebuild our economy, the government has a responsibility to address racial disparities in wages, economic opportunity and wealth. Now is the time to act and to give the Federal Reserve the explicit mission of combating institutional racism in our economy.”
The measure would add reducing inequality part of the Federal Reserve's mission and require its chair to in testimony to Congress to identify disparities in employment, income and wealth across racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The chair would also be required to tell lawmakers how they plan to use their authority to reduce these discrepancies.
And the Fed would be required to generate detailed reports on disparities in labor force trends in the country.
Financial insecurity among Black and Latino New Yorkers was prevalent prior to the pandemic, but the public health crisis has made those differences even starker, Gillibrand said.