Fed’s Bowman sees strong US labor market bringing more women back to work

US Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman gives her first public remarks as a Fed policymaker at an American Bankers Association conference in San Diego, California, US, February 11 2019. REUTERS/Ann Saphir

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Aug 17 (Reuters) – A strong US labor market, the recovery of the service sector, and more fully open schools and childcare centers will likely bring more women back to the workforce, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said on Wednesday.

“We continue to see strong employment gains and low unemployment rates—the kind of labor market that historically has pulled in more workers,” Bowman said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Arkansas Women’s Commission in Russellville, Arkansas. “There are still plenty of jobs available even if we see the number of job openings reduced.”

Bowman, a strong supporter of the Fed’s aggressive interest rate hikes to tame inflation running at more than three times the Fed’s 2% goal, focused the bulk of her remarks on why women workers fared worse than men during the pandemic and how prospects are shaping up for the future.

She did not directly address monetary policy, although her view that more women may return to the labor force could alleviate some of the upward wage and price pressures the Fed is trying to corral. There are about 4 million fewer people working now than before the pandemic, one factor that economists say may be contributing to inflation.

While the future of labor supply is uncertain, Bowman said, some workers who retired early during the height of the pandemic may feel compelled to return to the workforce by fast-rising prices.

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Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler

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