New data shows few black economists at the Fed

At the end of 2021, black researchers made up about 1.5% of the staff of 945 doctoral-level economists in the Federal Reserve System, a number that highlights the central bank’s ongoing struggle to improve racial and ethnic diversity in its ranks.

Data that the Fed on Thursday published publicly for the first time it showed that 72% of the system’s Ph.D. level economists are white, 17% are Asian, and 9.4% identify as Hispanic or Latino. A small sharing relationship that is identified with two or more races.

New data on diversity follows New York Times report last year, in which data provided by the Fed showed that only 1.3% of economists in its system identified themselves as black only towards the end of 2020. The data for 2021 is roughly, but not exactly comparable, because the central bank has made methodological improvements in collecting this year’s figures

Economics is a strongly white and Asian profession – just under 5 percent of U.S. citizens or residents who earned a PhD in the field in the 2020 school year were black, but the Fed tends to be even less racially diverse than the profession as a whole. The statement pointed out that the US central bank is making slow progress when it comes to hiring and retaining a more racial staff of experts.

Through the Fed’s 12-bank system and the Board of Governors in Washington, 14 doctoral-level economists identify themselves as black on their own. The council employs 429 economists, but no black women and only one black man.

However, there appears to be some progress towards greater diversity at the entry level. When it comes to the Fed’s 393 research assistants, who usually have a bachelor’s degree and often aim at earning a Ph.D. in economics along the way, the new data showed that 19 people, or roughly 5% of the assistants, were black.

This is a lightweight improvement from 3.7 percent the previous yearand roughly reflects the share of business graduates that identify themselves like Nero.

The Fed’s most entry-level staff were also more gender-diverse: 42 percent of research assistants were women, compared to about 25 percent of its doctoral-level economists.

legislators Other reservoirs of thought for years have pushed the Fed to increase diversity within its ranks, arguing that having a group of economists and researchers at the central bank who more closely reflect the public – the people the Fed ultimately serves – would lead to a wider range of views on the political table and more comprehensive economic discussions.

The Fed sets the nation’s monetary policy by raising or lowering the cost of borrowing money in order to slow or speed up the economy. Its actions help determine the strength of the labor market at any given time, help control inflation, and can affect financial stability.

“The risk with underrepresentation, from a substantial point of view, is that you are underrepresenting the perspectives that are important to decision making,” said Skanda Amarnath, executive director of Employ America, which pushes the Fed to focus more on the market. of work.

This could mean that a range of ideas and experiences “are not fully understood or captured to the same extent,” he said.

The Fed is about to see greater racial diversity at its highest levels: Lisa D Cook Other Philip N. Jeffersonwho are both black, were confirmed as Fed governors just this week. Susan M Collins she will become the first black woman to head a regional Fed bank when she becomes president of the Boston Fed this summer, and Raphael Bostic, the first black man to head a regional bank, is currently president of the Atlanta Fed.

The Fed’s management team has also become more gender-diverse in recent years. Assuming Biden’s candidates are all confirmed, three of the seven central bank governors will be women. Once the new presidents take office in Boston and Dallas this summer, five of its 12 regional bank leaders will be women.

Fed officials in recent years have spoken publicly about aiming for a wider range of views within their workplaces.

“The Atlanta Fed is committed to modeling economic inclusion, and that starts with our organization,” said Atlanta’s Mr. Bostic in a opinion piece 2020, published after George Floyd, a black man, died at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. “We accept diversity and inclusion as essential to who we are.”