“We’re recovering, but to a different economy,” Powell said during a virtual panel discussion at the European Central Bank’s Forum on Central Banking.
The pandemic has accelerated existing trends in the economy and society, including the increasing use of technology, telework and automation, he said. This will have lasting effects on how people live and work.
While technological advances are generally positive for societies over the long term, Powell said, on a short-term basis they create disruption, and as the market adjusts to the new normal the pain isn’t shared evenly.
For example, it’s likely that lower-paid workers, as well as those in jobs requiring face-to-face interactions, such as retail or restaurant workers, will shoulder most of the burden of this shift. These groups, heavily skewed towards women and minorities, have already been among those most affected by pandemic layoffs, Powell said.