Powell meets with local leaders and business owners
Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, visited York County on Saturday to learn more about its economic redevelopment. As the county continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, Powell met with local leaders and business owners at the Yorktowne Hotel to learn about the needs of employers and workers.
Powell said he was impressed by the county’s 20-13 economic plan, which focused on manufacturing, education, and innovation. He said the plan helped the county to cope better with the pandemic and prepare for the future.
“It feels like your plan enabled [York County] to come through COVID better than you otherwise would have, you actually had a plan in place and that’s what is very striking to me,” Powell said.
Challenges and opportunities in the labor market
Powell also discussed the challenges and opportunities in the labor market, which is one of the main concerns of the Fed. He said the Fed’s goal is to achieve a sustained period of strong labor market conditions, with low unemployment and high participation.
However, he acknowledged that some sectors, such as childcare, healthcare, and manufacturing, are facing difficulties in hiring and retaining workers. He said some of the factors that affect the labor supply include health risks, childcare costs, skills mismatch, and wage expectations.
He also said that inflation, which has been rising above the Fed’s target of 2%, is largely driven by temporary factors, such as supply bottlenecks, pent-up demand, and base effects. He said the Fed expects inflation to moderate in the coming months, but will monitor the situation closely and use its tools to ensure price stability.
“The record is also clear that we need price stability, price stability is just a critical piece of bedrock for the overall economy over the years,” Powell said.
Local businesses share their stories
Among the local businesses that shared their stories with Powell were Pacos, a Mexican restaurant in the York Central Market, and York Container Company, a packaging manufacturer. Both businesses said they had to adapt and innovate to survive the pandemic and meet the changing needs of their customers.
Brando Diaz, the co-owner of Pacos, said he had the foresight to buy products locally, which helped him to avoid supply chain disruptions and price increases. He also said he had to adjust his menu and prices to balance the costs and revenues.
“In those terms, we did have to manage and move things around, add something and take other things away, but other than that it’s been a little bit of a hurdle to get through,” Diaz said.
John Hoke, the president and CEO of York Container Company, said his company invested in new technologies and equipment to increase its productivity and quality. He also said he offered incentives and training to his employees to retain them and attract new ones.
“We’re trying to be proactive and not reactive, and we’re trying to be ahead of the curve and not behind the curve,” Hoke said.
Powell thanked the local businesses for their resilience and contribution to the economy. He said he learned a lot from their experiences and insights, and that he will take them into account in his policy decisions.