Fed's Williams Says Low Unemployment Spurring More Job Training

(Bloomberg) -- Businesses are starting to step up their efforts to partner with community groups and provide training programs for employees as job openings become harder to fill, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said.

“I’m seeing that happening now, with a strong economy, where people are kind of recreating those networks,” Williams said Wednesday during a town hall event in Brooklyn, New York. Earlier in the day, he toured the borough, which included a stop at Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a six-year program in which students obtain an associate’s degree in computer science.

“There’s a huge demand for workers,” Williams said. “At the same time, there is a big untapped potential for our economy, with people who are out of the labor force.”

A key question Fed officials are grappling with, as they consider continuing a gradual campaign of raising interest rates, is whether the unemployment rate can stay as low as it is without stoking inflation, and labor force participation may help shape their judgment.

U.S. unemployment inched up to 4 percent in June as more Americans reported they were looking for jobs, according to Labor Department data published Friday in Washington. The labor force participation rate for prime working-age Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 rose to 82 percent. It’s been rising since September 2015, when it reached a low of 80.6 percent following the 2007-09 recession. By comparison, it was 83.1 percent in December 2007.

Williams started his new job at the New York Fed on June 18, giving him a permanent vote on the U.S. central bank’s interest-rate setting committee. He was previously head of the Fed’s San Francisco branch.

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