(Bloomberg) – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the US central bank is committed to doing its part to eliminate inequalities and racial disparities in the labor market, but other levers like tax and education policies are better suited to the task.

“We have tools that are deemed broad and blunt,” Powell said of the Fed at a press conference on Wednesday. “I think we’ve identified the part we can do – and we’re going to do that part – but I’ve always been clear that it will take policies at large, across society, to work on these issues.”

Fed officials have stressed they will take a “broad and inclusive” approach – as defined in a new strategy announced by the central bank last year – to assess when the United States has reached its maximum target of use. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate for black Americans fell to an all-time high, although it was still far higher than that of white Americans.

“Ideally, there would be no gap, of course. We would all like not to see such a gap, ”said Powell. “This is a persistent gap, and it’s very difficult to explain on the basis of typical measurements. It’s just – it’s quite disturbing.

A Bloomberg analysis of the labor market in 15 major US metropolitan areas shows a slow recovery and an economic reality still painful for minority groups.

A recent Bloomberg survey found forecasters expect the Fed to start raising interest rates, with the black unemployment rate still well above the national rate. Powell was asked on Wednesday whether or not he thought those types of numbers would meet the central bank’s definition of broad and inclusive maximum employment.

“The purpose of the ‘broad and inclusive’ goal was not to target a particular unemployment rate for a particular group. Really, we’re looking at a wide range of – a very wide range of – measures when we think about what peak employment is, ”Powell said. “And one of the things we’re looking at is unemployment rates, participation rates and wages for different demographic and age groups, and that sort of thing. So we will do all of this.

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