The US Treasury issued its first-ever sanctions against a crypto exchange for aiding ransomware attacks

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during an event at the US Department of the Treasury on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

  • The US Treasury Department will sanction Suex for its role in laundering financial transactions for ransomware actors.
  • This marks the first time the agency has ever blacklisted a cryptocurrency exchange.
  • Analysis of transactions of Suex showed that over 40% was associated with illicit actors, the department said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The US Department of the Treasury on Tuesday revealed it will sanction Russian-owned Suex for its role in laundering financial transactions for ransomware actors, marking the first time the agency has ever blacklisted a cryptocurrency exchange.

An analysis of transactions of Suex showed that over 40% were associated with illicit actors, according to a department announcement, adding that the crypto exchange also facilitated illicit funds from at least eight ransomware variants.

Tuesday’s designation would generally ban all US citizens from engaging in transactions with Suex, a private company based in the Czech Republic.

The agency’s Office of Foreign Assets Control warned players in the space that it “has imposed, and will continue to impose, sanctions on these actors and others who materially assist, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for these activities.”

The move came after a series of cyberattacks paralyzed several US businesses such as Colonial Pipeline and major meat processor JBS earlier this year, prompting the Biden Administration to ramp up its efforts to prevent future incidents.

“Demand for ransomware payments has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as cyber actors target online systems that US persons rely on to continue conducting business,” Treasury said. “The US government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands and recommends focusing on strengthening defensive and resilience measures.”

Ransomware payments reached over $400 million in 2020 – more than four times their level compared to the previous year, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show a 21% increase in reported ransomware cases from 2019 to 2020.

Ransomware is a specific type of attack in which hackers block access to a computer system or data until their demands are met. Typically, these are payments are requested in cryptocurrencies, due to their perceived anonymity.

“Ransomware and cyber-attacks are victimizing businesses large and small across America and are a direct threat to our economy. We will continue to crack down on malicious actors,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement Tuesday.

Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, has been known to crack down against cryptocurrencies, citing how their use in laundering the profits of online drug traffickers and financing terrorism.

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Failure to raise the debt ceiling will delay child tax credit payments and Social Security checks, causing ‘economic catastrophe,’ Janet Yellen says

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Janet Yellen.

  • Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen warned of an “economic catastrophe” if the debt limit isn’t raised.
  • In a WSJ opinion piece, she it would delay needed Social Security benefits, among other things.
  • Despite calls for bipartisan support, the GOP vowed Democrats will have to raise the limit alone.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote a letter to congressional leadership stressing the urgency of raising the debt limit, given that the government’s money will likely run out in October due to financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

With October just 10 days away, Yellen doubled down on the need for Congress to act quickly, citing how failure to raise the limit will hurt Americans across the country.

“In a matter of days, millions of Americans could be strapped for cash,” Yellen wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal. “We could see indefinite delays in critical payments. Nearly 50 million seniors could stop receiving Social Security checks for a time. Troops could go unpaid. Millions of families who rely on the monthly child tax credit could see delays. America, in short, would default on its obligations.”

The White House last week expressed the same concerns as Yellen, warning in a memo to state and local governments that a government default could lead to potential big cuts in measures like Medicaid and free school lunches.

After Congress missed a July 30 deadline to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the US Treasury employed “extraordinary measures” to keep paying off the government’s bills, but as Yellen warned in her letter to Congress, those measures will likely run out next month, warranting speedy, bipartisan action to prevent a government default.

Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig and Andy Kiersz reported on another extraordinary measure that Treasury could turn to: minting a platinum coin worth $1 trillion. Treasury officials have long ruled this out, however. Yellen’s tone on that matter was unchanged in her opinion article.

“Paying America’s bills shouldn’t be a controversial issue,” Yellen wrote. But right now, it is. Republican lawmakers vowed Democrats will have to go at it alone, with 46 of them last month signing a letter agreeing they would not play a part in raising the debt ceiling given Democrats’ “irresponsible spending” with their $3.5 trillion social spending bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reinforced his party’s position on the debt limit last week, telling Punchbowl News that it’s Democrats’ obligation to ensure the government doesn’t default.

“They should step up. It’s hard being in the majority. They are the ones who will raise the debt limit,” he said, adding, “Do you guys think I’m bluffing?”

But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a Sunday letter that raising the limit “has long been bipartisan,” and she wants that to remain the case.

“Indeed, since 2011, every time the debt limit has needed to be raised, Congress has addressed it on a bipartisan basis, including three times during the last Administration,” Pelosi wrote. “When we take up the debt limit this month, we expect it to be bipartisan once more.”

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Janet Yellen says she wouldn’t be Treasury Secretary today if she ‘didn’t have an excellent babysitter 40 years ago’

Janet Yellen smiling in front of a microphone
Janet Yellen.

  • Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen credits “excellent” childcare for her professional success.
  • She urged Congress to invest in affordable childcare in the $3.5 trillion social spending bill.
  • The Treasury released a report on Wednesday detailing the lack of accessible childcare for parents.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Janet Yellen is the first female Treasury Secretary of the US, but she said it might not have been possible without the childcare made available to her after giving birth to her son four decades ago.

“Looking back, I’m not sure I would be here, in this job today, if I didn’t have an excellent babysitter 40 years ago,” Yellen said during remarks on Wednesday on shortages in the childcare system.

Yellen joined Vice President Kamala Harris at the Treasury Department in urging for increased investments in childcare, and she said that while she was lucky to have given her son great childcare, it is certainly not the norm for most families today. The Treasury released a report on Wednesday that found parents need childcare at a time when they can least afford it – right when they give birth – and there is currently no funding mechanism, stressing the need for reform.

“For the vast majority of Americans, the child care industry works in precisely the opposite way it worked for us, which is to say it doesn’t work at all: Those who provide child care aren’t paid well, and many who need it, can’t afford it,” Yellen said.

House Democrats recently unveiled their plan to invest $761 billion to make childcare more affordable as part of their social spending bill, which included a universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds and investments to ensure children do not go hungry. It also includes a cap on families’ spending on childcare at 7% of income so anyone who wants care can afford it, regardless of how much money they make.

Insider reported on Tuesday that 110 economists echoed Yellen’s calls in a letter stressing the importance of affordable childcare in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending bill. Betsey Stevenson, a top economist under Obama and one of the letter’ signatories, told Insider in an interview that the “fundamental flaw” in childcare is the lack of investment.

“What we have done is create a nation of kids who are underinvested in, and that feeds into not just what our potential is as an economy, but it also feeds into inequality,” Stevenson said.

Democrats are in the process of debating elements of the reconciliation bill, including an expanded $300 monthly child tax credit, but where benefits for children and families stand remain uncertain given hesitation from centrist lawmakers, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who wants a work requirement for the benefits.

But Yellen said during her remarks it’s “past time that we treat child care as what it is – an element whose contribution to economic growth is as essential as infrastructure or energy.”

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Renters have only received 11% of stimulus aid – and the latest eviction ban could end before they get the rest

Protesters outside the California Capitol hold a sign that reads "Evictions=Death."
In this Jan 25, 2021 file photo demonstrators calling for lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom to pass rent forgiveness and stronger eviction protections legislation, gathered in front of the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

  • Only 11% of the federal rental aid meant to help tenants pay during the pandemic has been distributed as of July.
  • After Biden extended the eviction ban through July, aid disbursement only increased from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion.
  • Biden extended the ban an additional 60 days through October, but it risks getting struck down in court.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

December and March stimulus packages gave states a combined $46.5 billion to help tenants as emergency rental assistance. But as of July, they’ve only sent 11% of that aid out.

President Joe Biden first extended the pandemic-era ban on evictions through the end of July to help tenants who were behind on rent. At that time, just over 6% of aid had been dispersed, according to CNBC. Amid pressure from progressives, he further extended the ban in August by an additional 60 days to continue providing relief. But after the first extension, the aid only slightly ramped up, leaving 89% of that stimulus aid still unspent as evictions loom.

The Treasury Department released data on Wednesday reflecting how much emergency rental assistance aid has been distributed as of July 31. Of the $46.5 billion in aid, only $5.1 billion has been distributed so far.

And from June to July, after the first eviction ban extension, distribution of that aid barely picked up. According to the data, $1.5 billion in rental aid went out in June, and in July, disbursement of that aid saw a slight uptick to $1.7 billion. The Treasury noted that in July, that money was largely spent on rent and utilities and went to more than 340,000 households in need of assistance.

Ramping up the pressure on states to disburse funds

Given the slow disbursement of the aid and many tenants still at risk of eviction, Biden extended the eviction ban an additional 60 days on August 3 to allow for more time for the aid to reach households. But even though the federal government oversees the aid, it is up to the states to actually get that aid out the door, which is why the Treasury detailed plans to pressure states to ramp up their efforts.

The department wrote that “too many grantees have yet to demonstrate sufficient progress in getting assistance to struggling tenants and landlords. After September, programs that are unwilling or unable to deliver assistance quickly will be at risk of having their rental assistance funding reallocated to effective programs in other high-need areas.”

The main issue the department noted with disbursing the aid is the backlog in processing applications, and it said that self-attestation, or allowing tenants to verify their own eligibility for aid, can be used to speed up the process.

Even if aid does ramp up, the eviction ban extension might get struck down in court. Biden himself cited a Supreme Court ruling last month – an opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh – that said any new extension needed to come from Congress.

“Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” Biden said at a news conference.

The eviction ban is back before the Supreme Court this week after a District of Columbia court declined to strike it down last week, suggesting there might be less time than Biden intended to protect tenants from losing their homes.

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Biden won’t extend $300 boost to weekly unemployment benefits past September

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Janet Yellen and Marty Walsh confirmed Biden’ won’t extend federal unemployment benefits past September.
  • They wrote in a letter that Biden still supports states using stimulus funds to help the unemployed.
  • 26 states, all but one governed by Republicans, moved to end the unemployment boost early.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As part of his American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden extended $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September 6. Top officials in his administration confirmed on Thursday that he won’t be extending the benefits any further.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh wrote a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate finance committees with an update on where unemployment benefits stand. They wrote that although the weekly benefits have been a “critical lifeline” for millions of unemployed Americans, a further extension of the benefits – which some Democrats have been pushing for – is off the table.

“The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned,” Yellen and Walsh wrote. “As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire.”

However, the officials noted that even as the economy is recovering from the pandemic and payrolls are being added to the labor market, unemployed people may still require financial assistance, and the Delta variant could bring economic setback, as well.

That’s why they said the Labor and Treasury Departments will take the following steps to help those are unemployed:

  1. The Treasury is reaffirming that states can use what they received from the $350 billion in stimulus aid to provide additional support for unemployed people beyond the expiration of the benefits;
  2. Labor will communicate with states on how they can best use their “existing UI (unemployment insurance) infrastructure” to support state-funded benefits using stimulus funds;
  3. And Labor is announcing $47 million in new grants to support reemployment services for all Americans.

Yellen and Marsh also wrote the pandemic has exposed “serious problems” in the UI system that requires reform, which is why Biden is asking Congress to consider long-term reform of UI in Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

“The President has already laid out his principles for such reform: he believes a 21st century UI system should prevent fraud, promote equitable access, ensure timeliness of benefits, provide adequate support to the unemployed, and automatically expand benefits in a recession,” they wrote.

After a weak April jobs report, 25 GOP-led states – and one governed by a Democrat, Louisiana – moved to end unemployment benefits early for their residents because they believed the benefits disincentivized work. According to an analysis from the left-leaning People’s Policy Project, over 20 million Americans will lose their benefits when the September expiration rolls around.

Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig and Juliana Kaplan reported that the Delta variant has people begging for more benefits, given that the variant could jeopardize the return to work. But even before Yellen and Walsh’s announcement, moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia told Insider he would not support a further extension of the benefits in a reconciliation bill, suggesting a slim likelihood of it passing through Congress.

“I’m done with extensions,” he said. “The economy is coming back.”

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Goldman Sachs-backed crypto payments group Circle aims to become a full-reserve national digital bank

circle
Circle

  • Digital payments company Circle said on Monday it planned to operate as a digital full-reserve commercial bank.
  • CEO Jeremy Allaire said full-reserve banking and digital currency technology would help make the financial system more resilient.
  • The company’s USDC stablecoin, the second-biggest after Tether, has a market value of $27.5 billion.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Digital payments company Circle plans to become a full-reserve national commercial bank, according to an announcement by CEO Jeremy Allaire on Monday.

Allaire said that since its inception, the aim of Circle was to eventually build a global digital currency bank, regulated in the same way as traditional commercial banks and held to the same standards, but with free and “frictionless” transaction and payment mechanisms.

“We believe that full-reserve banking, built on digital currency technology, can lead to not just a radically more efficient, but also a safer, more resilient financial system,” Allaire said in a blog post.

“Since Circle’s founding, we have prioritized responsible financial services innovation and constructive engagement with regulators and public authorities in the US and around the world,” he said.

The company said it would work under the supervision of bodies such as the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Allaire said the decision had partly been the product of the growth in its dollar-backed stablecoin, USDC, which has a market capitalization of $27.5 billion. It’s the second-largest stablecoin after Tether, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Circle partnered with Visa in late 2020 to allow USDC payments on its cards, for example.

Stablecoins such as USDC and Tether are backed by traditional assets such as fiat currencies, or even short-dated government bonds. Their detractors point to a lack of transparency over reserve levels and how much their issuers have in hard assets to back their coins. But their supporters point to their stability compared with other, riskier cryptocurrencies that can by highly volatile.

Circle, which is partly backed by Goldman Sachs, said it would continue to build on its “long-standing commitment to trust, transparency and accountability in the dollar-denominated reserves backing USDC.”

“In the coming years, we anticipate that USDC will grow into hundreds of billions of dollars in circulation, continue to support trillions of dollars in low-friction, high-trust economic activity and become widely used in financial services and internet commerce applications,” Allaire said.

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Biden calls on local governments to give out $100 to anyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.
Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.

  • Biden is calling for local governments to offer $100 to people getting the first shot of the vaccine.
  • The US Treasury Department said governments should use COVID relief funds to pay for the incentives.
  • The announcement comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to offer $100 to anyone getting newly vaccinated, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

The push comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57.2% of all Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The CDC announced new recommendations on Tuesday, recommending people wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial or high” COVID transmission rates. Some cities are also starting to pay people to get a shot.

New York City announced on Wednesday that it would be providing a $100 vaccine incentive to anyone getting their first dose starting on Friday.

The announcement said Biden wants the new program to be funded with $350 billion in state and local relief funding from the stimulus law. It passed with only Democratic support in March.

It’s unclear how many state and local governments will take up the administration’s new proposed initiative. Lawmakers are already eyeing repurposing roughly $200 billion in unspent coronavirus relief funding to finance a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Many states have already parceled out their aid to cover the cost of providing healthcare or paying the salaries of essential workers. Some like California provided direct payments to their residents.

Earlier this year, 14 Democratic state treasurers sent a letter to lawmakers urging Congress against “clawing back” stimulus funds for infrastructure.

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Janet Yellen says Treasury is prepared to pay the US’s bills to prevent ‘irreparable harm’ to the economy as GOP balks at raising debt ceiling

Mitch McConnell Janet Yellen Congress Treasury
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

  • Yellen said Treasury is prepared to pay off the country’s bills starting August 2.
  • It comes as McConnell opposes raising the debt ceiling without political concessions.
  • Yellen said even the threat of a default risks major damage to the US economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to renew the federal government’s ability to pay off its debt ahead of a major deadline, warning that failing to do so in a timely manner risks major damage for average people and the economic recovery.

Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are balking at raising the debt limit without ensuring spending cuts from Democrats. He suggested earlier this week that Democrats would have to do it on their own with no GOP support.

In the letter, Yellen said the US will hit its statutory debt limit on August 1. The next day, she said Treasury is prepared to take “certain extraordinary measures” to pay the country’s outstanding bills and prevent a default that could ripple through the global economy.

“Failure to meet those obligations would cause irreparable harm to the economy and the livelihoods of all Americans,” Yellen wrote on Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She noted that raising the debt ceiling doesn’t prompt more federal spending, it only authorizes the government to pay what it already owes.

Yellen underscored the potential damage that even the threat of a default could have on the economy. She cited a 2011 showdown between Obama and House Republicans that led to the first-ever credit downgrade of US debt. Yellen also said it’s hard to predict when Treasury would exhaust its ability to pay off the US’s bills on its own.

On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasted Treasury would “probably” run out of cash sometime in October or November.

Republican opposition is hardening now that President Joe Biden sits in the White House. In July 2019, they voted to suspend the borrowing limit for two years under President Donald Trump.

A default from the federal government could precipitate a chain reaction of cash shortages, starting with US bondholders that include people, businesses, and foreign governments. Democrats insisted this week they wouldn’t allow the GOP to use the debt ceiling as a political weapon.

“We’ll handle our business,” Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a cosponsor of a bill to abolish the debt ceiling, told Insider on Wednesday. “This is something the Hill freaks out about every year or so. We will not negotiate over it, we will not concede anything and we won’t fail to do our job.”

The Biden administration is pushing lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling ahead of the August 2 deadline.

“We certainly expect Congress to act in a bipartisan manner as they did three times under the prior administration to raise the debt limit,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

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Parents could get a $300 check this week from the government thanks to the revamped child tax credit

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • The IRS will start sending advance child tax credit payments on July 15.
  • Monthly payments for families will be issued until December, with the remainder sent at tax time.
  • It amounts up to $300 per child, depending on the age.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The federal government is only three days away from kicking off what’s essentially a new child allowance program in the America.

It stems from a revamped child tax credit in President Joe Biden’s March stimulus law that widened the credit’s reach to families with no tax obligations, and bulked up the amount. Families can get a monthly $300 check for children ages 5 and under, and $250 for each child between 6 and 17.

The IRS noted that most families will receive the payments without having to do anything, and they should receive them through direct deposit, a paper check, or a debit card – similar to the three stimulus payments that the federal government sent over the past year.

Half of the amount will be divided into monthly payments issued from July until December. The remaining half will be provided at tax time next year. It will total $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17, and $3,600 for children under age 6.

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began notifying 36 million American families that they could be eligible to receive the monthly child tax credit.

Here’s when the IRS will distribute payments:

  • July 15
  • August 13
  • September 15
  • October 15
  • November 15
  • December 15

The White House estimates that 90% of families are eligible to get the credit. Researchers say it has the potential to put a major dent in child poverty as well.

Still, the IRS is scrambling to reach the lowest-income families who didn’t previously qualify for the child tax credit. At least 2.3 million children could be excluded from the child allowance, per a Treasury Department estimate.

A strong majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing to make the child tax credit changes permanent. Biden’s sprawling infrastructure package would extend it until 2025. After that, Congress would need to renew it.

“We must use this moment to pass the American Family Act and permanently expand and improve the child tax credit by increasing the benefit to families and providing payments monthly,” Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro said in a February statement. “Children and families must be able to count on this benefit long after the end of this pandemic.”

Still, some moderate Senate Democrats may push for cuts to the measure. At least one Democratic senator has expressed unease with checks going to households earning six figures.

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4 unhealthy aspects of the current US economy, according to Janet Yellen

janet yellen fed
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discussed “destructive forces” in the economy in Senate Finance testimony.
  • They include wage inequality, racial inequality, the climate crisis, and the labor force participation rate.
  • All of those factors existed before the pandemic, but many have been exacerbated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown into relief some of the hidden realities of the American economy, from low wages to income inequality.

But in testimony in front of the Senate Finance committee, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighted four structural problems that plagued the economy even prior to the pandemic – although they may have intensified or grown more visible throughout the past year.

She cited wage inequality as a prime example. “In healthy economies,” she said, we see wage growth across the distribution – for workers making the highest incomes and those making the lowest. But over the past several decades, that has not been the case in our economy.”

Here are the four “destructive forces” that Yellen highlighted in her prepared testimony.

(1) Wage inequality

Wages have been trending down for years prior to the pandemic. As Insider’s Andy Kiersz and Ben Winck reported, wages have been declining for the past five decades. While recent economic data shows wages growing at the fastest rate since the 1980s, the lowest-wage workers still see average hourly wages that are nearly half of the overall average hourly wage. That might be driving a high quit rate.

“While the highest earners have seen their income grow, families at the bottom end of the distribution have seen their pay stagnate,” Yellen said. she also noted that disparities have widened between traditionally richer and poorer areas.

(2) People dropping out of the labor force, especially women

Yellen also noted that labor-force participation has dropped, with women leaving at a higher rate than comparable nations even before the pandemic.

From February 2020 to May 2021, the number of women in the labor force declined by 2.4% – meaning there were 1.79 million fewer women.

Following the May jobs report, Jasmine Tucker, the director of research at the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider it will take 13 months for women’s employment to reach pre-pandemic levels. That number doesn’t include the never-realized gains women would have seen in a pandemic-free world.

(3) Climate change and its cost on the economy

“Climate change adds a fresh layer of crisis on top of this – the average cost of climate-related disasters is expected to double every five years,” Yellen said in her prepared testimony.

Investors have said that the climate crisis is a “systemic threat” for the economy. In 2019, a New York Fed official said that climate events had cost over $500 billion in the past five years alone. Some Democratic senators have said that they’d oppose any bipartisan infrastructure deal that foregoes addressing the climate crisis.

(4) Racial inequality

“When I started studying economics in 1963, the average Black family’s wealth was about 15% of the average white family,” Yellen said in her prepared remarks. “Maybe that isn’t surprising: Jim Crow laws were still in effect. But what is surprising is that it’s almost 60 years later, and that ratio has barely changed.”

Throughout the pandemic, Black Americans were disproportionately impacted on multiple levels. Black Americans saw higher unemployment rates than white peers, and lower labor force participation rates.

The racial wealth gap has also widened over the years – even before the pandemic. Using data from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the Federal Reserve found that white families had a median wealth of $188,200. For Black families, it’s $24,100.

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