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Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Fed chief makes slightly off-topic comment and it makes a hell of a lot of sense

May 9, 2017

People listen very closely whenever Janet Yellen, the first woman to serve as the chair of the Federal Reserve, speaks. Since her remarks can literally move markets, she’s typically very reserved in what she says publicly and almost always stays precisely on topic (read: interests rates and monetary policy). But last week she was speaking at Brown University during a conference celebrating the admission of women to the school 125 years ago, and she veered ever-so-slightly off-topic, a rarity, The Washington Post noted — and now she’s being praised by some lawmakers for doing so.

Yellen talked about how stalled economic growth in the U.S. is attributable to the deficit, compared to men, of women in the workplace. “A number of factors appear to be holding women back, including the difficulty women currently have in trying to combine their careers with other aspects of their lives, including caregiving,” Yellen said. She added that adding more women to the workforce — and doing so by implementing more family-friendly leave policies — will not only help grow the economy, but it will be crucial to maintaining the American workforce as more people hit retirement age.

“One recent study estimates that increasing the female participation rate to that of men,” Yellen said, “would raise our gross domestic product by five percent.”

“Supporting women in the workforce isn’t just a ‘women’s issue’ – it’s an economic issue,” U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweeted in praise of Yellen’s comments.

And she wasn’t the only one to laud Yellen’s remarks. There was — mostly — a chorus of praise for the fed chief. President Trump, though not recently, has indicated he plans to implement mandatory family leave policies. There’s no telling how serious he is about those proposals, but, as Anne-Marie Slaughter pointed out, if he is, there are a few things he has to be sure to do.

As for Yellen, here’s hoping she veers off topic more often.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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