There are many experts that have great influence over policies, especially during a global pandemic. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen is most certainly one of them. Having been the first person ever to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department, she is certainly qualified and knowledgeable. Hence, when Secretary Yellen makes statements, we must not take them lightly. Earlier this week, Secretary Yellen pointed out that “Economic crises generally do this: They take pre-existing inequalities–and make them even more unequal,” and one of the biggest inequalities contends is among Latinos.
When speaking to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Secretary Yellen stated that since her first economic course in school in the early ‘60s America has gone through at least five major economic crises. “Each one of those crises was very different, but they all shared at least one significant characteristic: They all hit Latino Americans disproportionately hard,” she said. “If someone tried to design an economic crisis that would unduly target the Hispanic community, they’d probably come up with something that looks a lot like COVID-19.”
When we look at the unemployment rates for Latinos over the last five decades and compare it with the national rate, Yellen points out that we’ll see that the lines move in tandem. But, she added, “the Hispanic unemployment rate is always above the national average.” To add more salt to the wound, even though Latino-owned businesses grew at twice the national average, a recent Stanford study found those businesses have a 60% lower loan approval than white-owned businesses.
Secretary Yellen says that the government is prepared to help by infusing $12 billion dollars into Community Development Financial Institutions as well as Minority Depository Institutions. By her own admission, it is only a start, but she believes the funds will make a big difference. “If [we] work together, then I am confident that when someone looks back at the economic data around the pandemic, they won’t simply conclude that Hispanic workers and business were the victims of the 2020 economy. They’ll see that they were the builders of a better one in 2021 and beyond.”
Secretary Yellen summarized all her remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Twitter: