Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said technology advances are likely more responsible than international trade for the “skill premium” that U.S. companies pay more highly educated workers.
“There appears to be considerably more evidence that technological change has increased the demand for skilled workers relative to unskilled workers,” Mester said in the prepared text of a speech she was scheduled to deliver Friday in Pittsburgh. A related “shift in the distribution of jobs helps to explain the wider gap in wages for highly skilled versus lower skilled workers, and the increasing return to gaining the education required to obtain those skills.”
Democratic lawmakers, worried that more trade deals would hurt U.S. workers, last week almost killed President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill, one of the president’s top second-term priorities. The measure passed the U.S. House on a second attempt Thursday in Washington.
Mester called for increased efforts to prepare students for college and make financial support available to them.
Mester, who votes next year on the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee, didn’t comment on monetary policy in her prepared remarks.
Forecasts from the FOMC, released Wednesday in Washington, showed more Fed officials project just one interest-rate increase this year, instead of two or more. Fed Chair Janet Yellen also emphasized the Fed intends to tighten slowly after an initial rate increase.
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