Meritorious talent or deep state spy?

“I’m so happy to be here – especially at this time of year when the fall colors light up the area,” New York Federal Reserve Chairman and CEO John Williams began. guest speaker at the Workforce Development Conference at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson on October 21. “In fact, my wife and I fell in love with this area – so much so that we now split our time between Columbia County and New York.”

Williams spoke in such a folksy tone that few of the hundred or so attendees in the community college dining hall realized he was reading from a prepared script that, within hours, would appear in the world’s press.

“In the current environment, filling jobs can be a challenge,” Williams told Hudson, as quoted by Reuters news agency. “Many find it difficult to hire people, especially at the entry level in construction, nursing and manufacturing…. The skills gap is a big obstacle.

The influence on politics of senior officials like John Williams has been much talked about in recent years. A great social distance separates elite bureaucrats like him from ordinary people whose lives are greatly affected by government decisions. When should the public trust expert opinion? When should experts be viewed as members of a nefarious deep state whose self-serving statements should be treated with great suspicion?

Dictionaries refer to the elite as “the most powerful, wealthy, or talented people within a particular group or society.” Various sources define the word “elite” very differently.

It’s a very politicized term these days. On October 27, for example, Philip Bump of the Washington Post argued that TV commentator Tucker Carlson’s “war on the elites” now encompasses election denial. Bump said Carlson sees the struggle for political power in the United States not as Democrats versus Republicans, but as a battle between an elite group versus the rest of America.

In an elite analysis published in 2019, sociologists Bas Van Heur and David Bassens rejected such a first definitions of elites. Research on elites, they argued, “would benefit from paying more attention to demarcation work between elites and non-elites, to intra-elite competition and distinction, to national state spaces to determine the composition of the elites and the sense of urban belonging of the economic elites”.

The frontier work

John Williams brought a broad perspective to the local workforce development meeting in Hudson. In sociological terms, his message underlined, among other things, the need for more efficient frontier work.

Members of his Hudson audience, mostly middle-aged or older, worked in consulting, job training, economic development, nonprofit management, education and research. related jobs. They were more familiar with the traditional skills required for traditional jobs.

Like their peers in other non-urban areas, the employers with whom these local experts interacted were at the head of small or medium-sized organizations with longstanding roots in their communities. The heart of today’s national employment problem is that employers are not finding workers with the skills they need and that many workers do not have the skills they need to move up the economic ladder. Stronger employer engagement in workforce training is an important part of the Fed’s proposed solution.

Who is John Williams?

Williams provided supporting data on the depth of the local problem. In 2020, more than half of available job seekers in Columbia and Greene counties had a high school diploma or less, he said, and only a quarter had an associate’s degree or higher. .

In a labour-intensive economy, unemployment is concentrated among the less educated. Those with less education are less likely to keep their job or find a new job.

The proportion of students graduating from high school in 2020 was 86% statewide, and those earning an advanced Regents degree was 42%, according to state education data. The corresponding figures for Ulster County were 87% and 41% – almost identical to the state figures. Columbia County graduated 87%, 38% with an advanced Regents degree. Greene County trailed with 82% earning a degree and only 31% earning an advanced Regents degree.

Although he didn’t say so in “Skilling the Gap: Building Local Talent for In-Demand Careers,” Williams himself is an exception in terms of the predominant educational model of his upstate neighbors in the Greene and Columbia counties. He received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, his master’s degree from the London School of Economics and his doctorate from Stanford University. Among his academic awards is membership in Phi Beta Kappa. A researcher in economics by training, he was the author of 62 economic articles published last year.

Williams is CEO of an organization of 3,000 employees, the majority of whom are well-trained knowledge workers.

Keeper of the vault

It’s an old custom among rural people to hide a few dollars in an old sock in the bottom drawer of their desk just in case. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is taking the habit literally to a new level at its headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in lower Manhattan. Its vaults in a well-fortified basement 80 feet below street level contain more than half a billion dollars in gold bullion.

If John Williams could distribute the gold in the vaults evenly among his 62,000 Columbia County neighbors — he can’t, most of it belongs to the central banks of dozens of nations — every living soul in Columbia County would end up at around $10,000. richer for the holiday season.

Fight inflation

Williams was president of the San Francisco Fed for seven years before becoming head of the New York Fed four years ago. He is ex officio vice-chairman of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which meets eight times a year to review economic and financial conditions and determine the appropriate monetary policy stance.

The twelve members of the FOMC, including Williams in a key role, are the masters of the American economic universe.

It is largely they, all public servants, who decide how inflation in the United States is to be fought.

This role does not sit well with everyone, especially Deep State theorists.

“Every presidential administration encounters some degree of internal resistance. The one the Trump administration has faced, however, appears to be the most active and aggressive ever,” the American Institute for Economic Research advised “…. Significant and active bureaucratic resistance is at work to thwart many executive objectives.

Fighting inflation right now means tightening the money supply, thereby slowing economic growth. As a UK business magazine recently explained, the FOMC hopes to trigger a chain reaction from less investment to less economic growth, less demand and less inflation. They must try to figure out how to manage this exploit without triggering a severe recession.

This Friday, November 4, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will host “Inflation: Risks, Implications, and Policies,” a hybrid research symposium focusing on the implications of high inflation and the policies needed to combat it. The symposium will include presentations on inflation and financial markets, inflation and inequality, inflation expectations and disinflation policies.

Although his personal expertise is in monetary policy, Williams’ New York Fed sees itself as an important place for research on endemic economic inequalities (referred to as “traditionally marginalized groups”).

Williams, a traveling preacher at events around the Fed’s second district (New York, southwestern Connecticut, northern New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) grants Fed research findings to understanding local economy. It was one of the roles he played in Hudson. He played it with a comfortable elan – earnest, earnest, informative and engaging.

Collaboration is key

Williams’ large team of knowledgeable researchers contribute periodically to the Fed’s Liberty Street Economics blog.

In 2018, four Fed economists, Jaison R. Abel, Tony Davis, Richard Deitz, and Edison Reyes wrote a blog about partnerships between New York State’s community colleges and employers.

Williams may have toyed with the crowd to some extent by stating that the role of community colleges cannot be overemphasized.

“Community college employer engagement occurs when employers work with these educational institutions to shape how students are educated,” Abel et al. wrote. “It has become an increasingly important strategy for community colleges to help their students acquire the right skills for available jobs and to help local employers find and retain workers with the skills they need. need.

A survey conducted by the researchers showed that employer engagement by community colleges was the norm. “About 40% have a budget specifically allocated to employer engagement, and about 90% of respondents have at least staff dedicated to employer engagement efforts.”

However, most community colleges, especially those in rural areas, say they don’t have enough financial resources or staff to expand their employer engagement efforts. More than a quarter of rural community colleges lack outreach staff.

Community colleges recognize that employer engagement is a promising and worthwhile endeavor for employers, students and workers. Due to a lack of outreach resources. it’s easier for them to focus on relationships with traditional employers who hire students with courses in medical assisting and nursing, criminal justice, or hotel management.

Nearby, mile-and-a-half-long Warren Street, the famous Brooklyn north of the Hudson Valley, was not mentioned as a source of learning. More advanced digital businesses popping up everywhere would make good candidates for outreach.

Frontier work can only drive workforce development so far. Better transport and better broadband support, as noted by Williams.

An alternate path

But there is another traditional way. This is called migration. As we were reminded during the pandemic and as another conference speaker, Adam Bosch, CEO of Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress, provided data for the conference on, it comes in two types: l emigration and immigration.

We remember Jane Austen’s famous advice to a young woman: “If adventures do not come to a young woman in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”

For suburban Hudson Valley dwellers, that’s what New York is for. And what places like Kingston and New Paltz would aspire to in this footless era.