The Trump administration's plans to reach a 3 percent annual economic growth rate is most likely not achievable or sustainable "unless we get lucky," former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday.
"We want to do whatever we can to increase growth," Bernanke, now a fellow with the Brookings Institute, told the "CBS This Morning" program. "Growth has not been enough. There are a lot of headwinds and pretty slow growth in our labor force and slow growth in productivity, so in order to get growth up, we have to move a lot."
Bernanke, who chronicles the economic recession in his new book, "The Courage to Act," wrote that Trump "shocked the world" with his defeat of Hillary Clinton through his assessment of the economy, but said Tuesday Trump's assessment was not accurate.
"He was right that there are some people who are being left behind,' said Bernanke, but not about claims that the Obama administration resulted in 42 percent unemployment.
"In many ways, the U.S. economy is doing pretty well," Bernanke said. "We created 16 million jobs since 2009. The unemployment rate was 10 percent and went down to 4.5 percent. The housing market is coming back. Lots of things are positive."
Meanwhile, for the past 30 to 35 years, the income distribution has been "spreading out" in the United States, the former Federal Reserve chief said.
"There are more people at the top, fewer people in the middle, and more at the bottom," said Bernanke. In addition, in the past, more young men would have been working at a regular job, but now, about 12 percent of those men are not working or even looking for work. Those kinds of trends, which are longstanding and not recent, have left behind a lot of people, and that's the kind of concern that Donald Trump tapped into."
Economic growth is important for helping with economic equality, but it won't lift all incomes equally.
"What we're missing is more upward mobility," said Bernanke. "If you were born in the bottom quarter of the income distribution, lower class working person, or single parent family, those kinds of problems, it's much harder for you to get up to the professional upper levels of our society."
It was also not realistic for Trump to promise more manufacturing and mining jobs, said Bernanke.
"There's a lot of reasons why coal mining is declining, because of cheap natural gas, many other things going on," Bernanke commented. "It's better, instead of trying to go back to the past and reproduce 1960s assembly lines, it's much better to go to the industries of the future.
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