US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that rapid coronavirus vaccination would help recovery in the world’s largest economy.
She said getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible would “absolutely” help economic recovery and stressed that recovery depends on getting the pandemic under control.
“Vaccinations are critical” in accomplishing that, she said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
Regarding President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill, she said: “The rescue plan is very much focused on getting aid … starting with unemployment insurance and rental assistance for people who are in danger of losing their homes, food assistance to small businesses, especially to low-income minorities.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was reluctant to comment if the relief bill, which includes $1,400 direct payments to most individuals, would help recovery.
“These matters are for Congress … not for us,” he said, but added that fiscal policy has provided a lot of support and it has been appropriate.
Yellen said direct payments have helped families, while increased spending will speed up economic recovery.
About the unemployment level failing to decline given the growth rate of GDP expectation, Powell said “[The] participation [rate]is expanding. People are coming back to the labor market.”
He said Tuesday that economic recovery is far from complete and the Fed will continue to provide support for the economy for as long as it takes.
The central bank is expected to keep its benchmark interest level near zero until 2023 when full employment is expected and economic recovery is strong.