Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Janet Yellen says immigration curbs may hurt US growth

AFP, WASHINGTON

Curbing immigration, as US President Donald Trump appears intent on doing, could slow already sluggish US economic growth, US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday.

With the US population aging, the flow of new workers from abroad has been an important factor in keeping the economy expanding, Yellen said in her first testimony before the US Congress since Trump took office last month.

While she declined to comment on specific immigration policies, Yellen said the pool of available workers has been growing slowly “and immigration has been an important source of labor force growth.”

“So slowing the pace of immigration probably would slow the growth rate of the economy,” she said.

She described the 1.9 percent US growth rate last year as “disappointing” and emphasized that productivity — the ability of workers to produce more goods and services — has lagged.

“We have an aging population and labor force growth is relatively slow, and productivity growth in recent years has been depressingly slow,” which keeps economic growth low, Yellen said.

However, Yellen said specific immigration policies are “for Congress and the administration to decide.”

Trump’s early days in office have been marked by controversy over an order barring entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, since blocked by the courts, as well as nationwide raids to scoop up and deport illegal immigrants with criminal records.

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