Fed’s Barkin says policies could do more to help women enter workforce

(Reuters) – The U.S. economy is being held back by policies that discourage women from working, Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin said on Monday.

The United States used to be a leader in female labor force participation but has lagged other rich counties in recent decades.

Barkin said the labor force participation gap between U.S. and Canadian women of prime working age suggests differences in government policies are playing a role.

He said demographic differences between the two countries only explain part of the gap, and noted that in the United States, women with less formal education account for much of the drop in labor force participation among women between 1997 and 2015.

He said U.S. tax policies could be offering disincentives for some women eligible for tax breaks that target low income earners.

“Women with less education in the United States face a number of obstacles to working,” Barkin said in prepared remarks for the Charlotte Economics Club in Charlotte, Norte Carolina.

He did not comment on the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy or monetary policy.

(Reporting by Jason Lange in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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