| WASHINGTON, June 11
WASHINGTON, June 11 U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack
Lew said on Wednesday the economy was gaining traction but that
the lack of progress on wages and employment remains
In remarks to the New York Economic Club, Lew said that for
the high numbers of unemployed, and those whose wages have
stagnated, "this hardly feels like a recovery."
"The ultimate test for all of us will be how inclusive
tomorrow's economy becomes and how widely our economic gains
flow," he said. "The crisis we face today is the need to make
sure the economy is expanding fast enough to support a growing
A dismal start to 2014, with businesses hampered by a harsh
winter, has given way to optimism about the course of growth for
the rest of this year. Lew noted, as well, that political
feuding in Washington over health care, the debt ceiling and
budget issues has receded.
That, he said, should pave the way for a broader discussion
about how to tackle structural economic issues - how to spur
infrastructure investment, strengthen alternatives to four-year
colleges to train workers, and tackle immigration reform as a
way to reverse the decline in labor force participation.
The drop in participation rates has been one of the more
perplexing economic issues to grow out of the recent crisis and
recession. Though some of the decline is the result of the aging
of the U.S. population, some of it remains unexplained.
"We cannot repeal the Baby Boom," Lew said of the large
cohort of Americans who are reaching retirement age, "but we can
address the resulting decline in the labor force by addressing
our outdated, economically backwards immigration system."
He said that businesses also needed to "come off the
sidelines" and start putting the record stocks of cash held in
corporate coffers to work.
(Reporting By Howard Schneider)