Fed’s Bowman says U.S. labor market could struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels

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FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman gives her first public remarks as a Fed policymaker at an American Bankers Association conference in San Diego

By Jonnelle Marte

– The obstacles making it difficult for many women to work, combined with an increase in retirements, could hinder the labor market recovery and be a drag on the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said on Tuesday.

Women with young children left the labor force at a higher rate than other workers and some are still struggling to find childcare they can afford, Bowman said. And many of the older workers who left the labor force during the pandemic, including a high share of women, may not return, Bowman said.

“The loss of these workers will limit the productive capacity of the economy, and may make it harder, or even impossible in the near term, to return to the high level of employment achieved before the pandemic,” Bowman said in remarks prepared for a virtual event hosted by the Richmond Fed.

Bowman did not comment on her outlook for monetary policy in the prepared remarks.

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Andrea Ricci)