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Opinion
Michael R. Strain

No, the Fed Can’t Make People Go Back to Work

Workers are on the sidelines for reasons that loose monetary policy can’t fix. It’s up to Congress to find ways to encourage employment.

A lot of carrots are needed to entice people to return to work. 

A lot of carrots are needed to entice people to return to work. 

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Why are U.S. workers still not back on the job? What policy makers assumed would be a temporary crisis, caused by the fears and disruptions of Covid-19, is looking more permanent, a shift with longer-term implications for the U.S. economy.

The workforce participation rate in the U.S. has shown little improvement since the summer of 2020, after the economy reopened from pandemic lockdowns. The Federal Reserve should signal to markets that it plans to reduce support for the economy after its meeting this week.