Opinion

My Plea To The Federal Reserve: Don’t Slow Down the Economy

By Yasenia Castro |  

March 14, 2017 |  

With Donald Trump in the White House, low-income communities from across the country are looking to the Federal Reserve more than ever to protect the interests of the millions of people who continue to wait for an economic recovery.

In December, the Federal Reserve raised the interest rate for the second time in a decade. This rate hike was intended to slow down the economy – reducing job creation and preventing wages from rising. Now the Fed is expected to raise rates again next week in anticipation of the Trump administration's plans for massive bank deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy and an inefficient, short-term increase in infrastructure spending.

The Fed should not be raising interest rates based on the stated plans of an erratic and ineffective leader. Even Trump’s best-laid plans have been consumed by the latest controversy of the day – hardly firm ground to make the most important decisions on the economy. The Fed should not get sucked into Trump’s alternate reality – they should be paying attention to the real struggles of ordinary people like me.

I am a single mother of three and represent migrant workers from across the state of New York that suffer discrimination in the workplace and wage theft. I immigrated to the United States in 1988 from Honduras with every expectation of working as hard as humanly possible.

I never expected to be a victim of exploitation.

Though I have a degree, the only employment opportunities afforded to me in this economy are in daycare, which comes with a heavy price. I am currently a babysitter working approximately ten hours a day for a total daily wage of $40. That is four dollars an hour, less than half of New York City’s minimum wage. Part of the reason workers like me are subject to exploitative practices is slack in the labor market that allows employers to treat people like disposable and replaceable objects.

If rates go up again, workers like me will be even more vulnerable to exploitative labor practices. When more people are employed, there is more competition for employers to find good employees, and I could demand a higher wage.

But higher interest rates would signal that Fed decision-makers think that the unemployment rate is where it should be, that I am exactly where I should be, working for less than the minimum wage. Right now, blacks and Latinos are facing an onslaught of attacks from every front from this administration. We don’t need the Fed to fall in line with Trump and undermine us economically. 

Yasenia Castro is a member of Make the Road New York, a community-based organization dedicated to building the power of working class communities through organizing, policy innovation and survival services. 

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