The Federal Reserve is the latest institution to denounce racism amid nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Chairman Jerome Powell addressed the protests in a virtual news conference Wednesday.
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“I want to acknowledge the tragic events that have again put a spotlight on the pain of racial injustice in this country,” Powell said. “I speak for my colleagues throughout the Federal Reserve system when I say that there is no place at the Federal Reserve for racism, and there should be no place in our society.”
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a surge in unemployment and a fall in economic activity as Fed officials estimate the economy will shrink 6.5 percent this year.
But there are some glimmers of hope for a recovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that U.S. employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, the first month that jobs were added since February.
The overall unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent, but the African American unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent to 16.8 percent.
Powell said Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is working to ensure everyone benefits from the future economic recovery.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to participate fully in our society and in our economy,” Powell said. “These principles guide us in all we do, from monetary policy, to our focus on diversity and inclusion in our workplace, and to our work to ensure fair access to credit across the country. We will take this opportunity to renew our steadfast commitment to these principles.”
However, the Federal Reserve offered a grim outlook for the rest of this year, with the unemployment rate only projected to fall to 9.3 percent by the end of 2020. Powell also said Wednesday the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at near zero through at least 2022 and is “not even thinking about thinking about raising rates.”