May 12, 2016

Senator Warren, Congressman Conyers, 100+ Members of Congress Call for Diverse Federal Reserve

Letter to Fed Chair Yellen connects lack of representation to racial disparities in employment

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) Thursday released a letter signed by 116 members of the House of Representatives and 11 senators urging the Federal Reserve to reform its governance by committing to more diverse leadership and prioritizing full employment for all communities.

Addressed to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, the letter calls attention to the lack of diversity across the Federal Reserve system. White men from the financial and the corporate sectors dominate Fed governance in Washington D.C. and around the country, according to a study conducted by the Center for Popular Democracy for the Fed Up coalition.

Currently, 11 of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents are white and 10 of the 12 are men. Not a single regional Bank president is Black or Latino and there has never been an African American president of a regional Bank in the history of the Federal Reserve System. This year, all voting members of the interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are white.

The Congressional letter quotes from a former regional Fed president and argues that the lack of diverse leadership is hurting the Fed's policy decision-making processes: "When the voices of women, African-Americans, Latinos, and representatives of consumers and labor are excluded from key discussions, their interests are too often neglected," the letter says.

While the unemployment rate for whites is near 4 percent, the unemployment rate for African-Americans currently stands at nearly 9 percent. The vaunted recovery has never fully reached Black and Latino communities, where stagnant wage growth and involuntary part-time work is widespread. The Congressional letter calls on the Fed to remedy this reality: "By fostering genuine full employment, the Federal Reserve can help combat discrimination and dramatically reduce the disproportionate unemployment faced by minority populations."

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.