Members of the group followed central bankers in August to their annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where they discussed stock market turmoil. And at the beginning of this month, while Yellen was briefing lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Fed Up campaigners held a briefing to warn against planned monetary policy action.
At that event, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said officials should be more motivated to help boost stagnant salaries. But, he made clear, that will not happen without “a specific goal that we want unemployment down and wages up.”
Sherman is among 13 co-sponsors of a bill by John Conyers, D-Mich., seeking to prohibit the Fed from a rate hike until unemployment sinks below 4 percent, from the present 5 percent, its lowest level since 2008.
Advocates of full employment above all else don’t agree with economists who say the Fed needs to worry about preventing an increase in prices by lightly putting the brakes on economic growth. The core consumer price index — used to measure costs for basic goods, excluding food and energy — is right at the 2 percent target.
Meanwhile, during the last year, real average hourly earnings rose just 1.8 percent. Although that figure is said to be picking up, many workers hope a meaningful increase will put them well ahead of inflation.
Yellen has said her aim is to slowly increase the interest rate to prevent inflation rather than have a jump in inflation force “an abrupt tightening” of monetary policy, which she thinks could “risk disrupting financial markets and perhaps even inadvertently push the economy into recession.”
Although the Fed has declared the economy strong enough to warrant an interest rate hike, Cantos hopes the economics will work for everyone, including vulnerable people like her.
“When the Federal Reserve says the economy is going up, that the economy is great, that the economy is good, it’s a big, big lie,” she said. “They have to think about the economy for everybody.”