Skilled workers will boost economic growth: Philly Fed President Harker

Philly Fed President Harker: My forecast is three rate hikes this year

Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker on the state of the economy, the outlook for Federal Reserve policy and the potential economic impact of Trump administration policy.

“If we want growth to be higher than what we have today, we either need productivity and/or growth of the labor force.  And in both cases, those numbers have been low," Harker told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. "If you think about growth of [the] labor force, it is extremely low given that we the Boomers are retiring.”

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Harker says workforce development and other programs can bring some people "off the sidelines" and into the work force, but another key factor is improving America's infrastructure. 

“Providing infrastructure, this is the part people don’t often think about, transportation, housing," he said. "So that you can have a job, but if I can’t get to the job, I don’t have a job right?  So those infrastructure issues are really important.”

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Harker believes the U.S. must have access to skilled workers from anywhere in the world. “How we let people in the country, that’s not in my wheelhouse, but we do need those skilled workers.”

A "skills gap" has left some companies struggling to find workers with specialized training. “If you look at the hires versus the openings, that gap has been pretty persistent over the course of the last several months, really several years," Harker said. “I’ll give you one example. So, there’s a truck repair business I know, the guy doubled the size of his truck repair operation, he has half his bays empty because he can’t find qualified mechanics.”

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