Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen thinks its "unwise" to wait very long on hiking interest rates. She also cautioned that economic uncertainty under Trump is, well, all but certain.
Yellen indicated a rate hike was on the table for March when she testified Tuesday before a Senate committee on her semiannual report on monetary policy and the U.S. economic outlook. Here's the report.
In her Valentine's Day testimony, Yellen zoomed in on wage growth, productivity and income disparity, beyond interest rates.
The chairwoman said that while wage growth has picked up and the labor market is healthy, weak productivity growth in the U.S. has kept it low. That said, she believes raising rates shows the economy is on the mend.
This is the first time she's testified since President Trump took office. She said the U.S. central bank is aware of the sharp policy changes the administration looks to make.
Automation and jobs of the future
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) called for a conversation on the future of work given the rise of automation and globalization. Yellen responded that while these have generally been a source of growth, they have "created huge disadvantages" for some people.
She specifically mentioned people with less education and in manufacturing jobs that have seen their work outsourced, and urged lawmakers to think about ways to address the needs of those workers.
Diversity in the labor market
Somewhat piggybacking on the need of setting workers up for the future, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) brought up the disparities that still exist in labor participation between minorities and white Americans.
Yellen has said that it's "disturbing that such disparities still exist" and responded saying that there is a great need for policy and discussion on lifting these groups up.
'Immigration helps the economy'
Chairwoman Yellen also answered questions on immigration and how it impacts the overall economy. While she declined to discuss specifically Trump's recent controversial executive order on immigration, she did say that generally speaking, immigration is good for the economy.
"Immigration has been an important source of labor force growth," she said.