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Fed’s Harker: Systems Change Is Vital to Economic Mobility

For immediate release
Contact: Daneil Mazone, E-mail Media Relations, 215-574-7163

Philadelphia — At the heart of the economic mobility conversation are issues that matter to all of us, as a city, and they are issues that affect our collective future, said Patrick T. Harker, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, on Friday. Harker was speaking to a conference that looked at components of economic mobility in Philadelphia and ways to reinvigorate the city’s approach to its greatest challenges: economic inclusion, security, and mobility.

“Economic mobility in Philadelphia — or anywhere else, for that matter — is something that affects everyone, whether they know it or not.”

Harker zeroed in on the Philadelphia Fed’s Economic Growth & Mobility Project (EGMP), which focuses on three foundational aspects of mobility: job creation, workforce development, and infrastructure.

With EGMP, we are forming partnerships around the Third District (eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware) with communities that are engaged in addressing the systemic issues they face, said Harker. “The Fed can offer research, data, and support, but communities are the ones that understand their own unique needs.”

The Philadelphia Fed has partnered with Philadelphia Works, Social Finance, and a local company to change the way the local workforce is prepared for the future of work. This pilot is a unique private-public partnership, in which the public sector will provide customized training and the employer will repay the cost of that training once outcomes are realized.

“Overall, the economy is doing really well, but that is not a reality a lot of the people we meet with would recognize,” said Harker. “The reality of the tight labor market means that employers have to start thinking creatively and long term about how they are going to address the gaps in their workforces.”

Cities thrive and grow when they attract investment, new businesses, and have a dynamic churn. But when a significant portion of the population has been left behind, it affects us all, Harker continued. “We face multiple issues that need to be addressed, and we cannot do it in isolation,” he said. “[W]e need every sector to participate and every problem challenged in unison.”

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