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Don't raise interest rates

An recent article regarding the November jobs report painted a rosy picture of the economy, predicting an interest rate increase at the Federal Reserve's meeting next week ("The Week Ahead: Looking beyond a change in borrowing costs," Dec. 11). But hidden beneath the topline unemployment numbers are many troubling signs that should give the Fed pause as it makes its decision about raising rates.

The number of involuntary part-time workers went up in November, youth unemployment is above 15 percent and there are many discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work altogether. Wage growth is nowhere near where it needs to be if workers are to have any chance of recovering what was lost in the recession. And while the total number of unemployed workers has been trending downward, the unemployment rate for African American workers actually went up in November.

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This is a national problem: Black and Latino unemployment remains above pre-recession levels in most states and cities, yet many Fed policymakers are declaring we are near full employment. Given what a sluggish and inequitable economic recovery we are still experiencing, the Fed should think twice before intentionally slowing down the economy.

Fred Mason, Annapolis

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The writer is president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO.

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