- Nearly half of millennials really like Fed Chair Jerome Powell, according to a new Harris poll.
- Powell’s commitment to “maximum employment” is fueling a faster hiring recovery than after the 2008 crisis.
- Previous Fed chairs were much more wary of high inflation, a concern that hits older generations’ retirement savings.
It’s not just the money-printer-loving members of Reddit’s WallStreetBets who dig Jerome Powell. Millennials in general like this Federal Reserve Chair.
Nearly half of millennials — 47% — like the head of America’s central bank, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll and provided to Bloomberg. That places the generation among Powell’s biggest fans. Only 24% of millennials said they dislike him.
The generation has plenty of reasons to like Powell. The central bank rolled out a new framework in August 2020 that seeks average inflation of 2% and a broader, more inclusive goal of “maximum employment” rather than the previous status quo of “full employment.” Those updated goals have shaped the entire economic recovery.
They’ve also been a massive boon for millennials. Where the recovery from the Great Recession saw the group struggle to find new jobs, the current rebound has been much faster. By prioritizing the labor market over keeping inflation low, the Fed has helped the generation avoid another years-long bout of weak employment.
Households earning more than $100,000 a year also back Powell, with 55% saying they like the current chair. The Fed's emergency actions throughout the pandemic played a major role in driving stocks sharply higher over the past year by cutting interest rates to record lows and creating several new lending programs. With wealthy households far more likely to own those soaring stocks, such Americans have the Fed to partially thank for their bolstered fortunes.
Powell enjoys similar support on Capitol Hill. Senators on both sides of the aisle celebrated his November renomination, with many praising the unprecedented support the Fed deployed during the pandemic. Powell's reconfirmation will likely be one of the easiest nominations from President Joe Biden's first term.
The Fed's policy strategy has come at a cost. Inflation soared to three-decade highs in October as supply-chain pressures and Americans' massive spending drove businesses to hike prices. The Fed has said price growth is well above its target of a long-term average of 2% and signaled in November that it will shift its focus to cooling inflation.
The elevated inflation has been felt by all Americans, but baby boomers are shouldering the heaviest burden. The generation is in the midst of retirement, and soaring prices hurt the most for those without steady incomes. Wage growth is set to hit the highest levels since 2008, giving workers some protection from recent price hikes. The older generation, however, isn't benefitting from those raises. If inflation doesn't ease soon, boomers risk seeing their retirement savings evaporate faster than they planned.
Powell doesn't expect such issues to emerge. The US should see inflation "moving down by the second or third quarter" of 2022, the chair said in a November press conference. At the same time, it's "certainly within the realm of possibility" that the US reaches maximum employment next year, Powell added.
Americans seem to believe in Powell's outlook. Despite surging inflation pulling consumer sentiment to decade lows, 41% of 2,042 surveyed adults said they like the Fed chair, according to the poll. Only 27% felt the opposite, and 32% of respondents said they're unfamiliar with Powell.
Views of the Fed itself are even rosier. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed adults said they look favorably on the central bank, while just 27% said they dislike it.
Inflation might be soiling Americans' views of the economic rebound, but those same Americans are fans of the central bank tasked with keeping a lid on rising prices. They also like the man who's led the charge.