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Here’s Hoping Janet Yellen is Good for Youth Employment

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October 16, 2013

So, Janet Yellen was nominated by President Obama on October 9 to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve. That sound you hear, it’s the glass ceiling cracking.

Before President Obama nominated Janet Yellen, he was considering Larry Summers. The Larry Summers who thinks ladies and their lady brains can’t cut in STEM fields. When I thought a guy who’s not only  sexist but also not a very good economist might be in charge of our central bank, I was all:

But then he didn’t get the job and President Obama nominated Janet Yellen instead and I was like:

If the senate confirms her, she  would be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. She would not however be the world’s first woman to head a central bank. Russia  and Malaysia beat us to it (you know you’re doing something wrong when Russia is beating you at equality).

Janet Yellen is an intelligent woman with a fascinating life story, The NYT charts her path from liberal theorist to fed voice for jobs. She would be the first Democrat to head the Federal Reserve in nearly thirty years.

Yellen’s nomination is important, she’s certainly more qualified  than sexist Larry Summers and her being the first woman head of the federal reserve is great. We need more women in positions of power. I’m optimistic about Yellen’s nomination not because she’s a woman but because of the potential new perspective she might bring, considering the damage the economic policies of the past 30 years have brought us. Among the damages is the serious lack of jobs right now, especially among young people. According to the International Labour Office’s report on Global Employment Trends for Youth, “nearly 75 million youth are unemployed around the world, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007.”  Here in the US, “from April to July 2013, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old increased by 2.1 million to 19.7 million.”

We have high youth unemployment, which at any time is bad, it is especially troubling now.  Per The International Labour Office:

“..youth are not contributing to the economic welfare of their country. The loss of income among the younger generation translates into a lack of savings as well as a loss of aggregate demand. Many youth who are unable to earn their own income have to be financially supported by the family.Governments fail to receive contributions to social security systems and are forced to increase spending on remedial services.”

Youth unemployment puts limits on their ability to make reproductive choices. Whether or not they can afford reproductive health care services hinges on employment. For queer youth who get kicked out of their homes due to their sexual orientation and or gender identity, gainful employment can be the difference between homelessness and a roof over their head. Poverty among LGBT populations  is disproportionate higher than among heterosexual populations. Trans youth, particularly trans youth of color, are severely affected by the lack of economic opportunity.

Youth employment is good for the country. I hope Ms. Yellen makes it a priority during her tenure as head of the fed. It’s about high time we put an end to economic policies that cater to the 1% and start investing in young people. And I’m not just saying that because I’ll be graduating university in less than 6 months and begin job hunting. Dr. Yellen has a tough road ahead of her, if she survives the senate confirmation, she’ll make history. I hope she makes history  for her contribution to gainful youth employment and not merely for being another privileged white woman who made it in corporate America.

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