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Immigration is key to growth, Minneapolis Fed president tells legislators

Kashkari was the first Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank president to testify at the Minnesota Legislature.

Immigration is key to growth, Minneapolis Fed president tells legislators

Magazine, Making Money Jessie Van Berkel Star Tribune

Immigration is key to keeping the U.S. economically competitive, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari told state legislators Tuesday, warning that slower population growth shrinks economic gains.

“You can either accept slower growth, you can turn to immigration, or you can try to subsidize fertility. And that’s just the math,” Kashkari said.

In the first presentation by a Federal Reserve Bank president to the Legislature in recent history, Kashkari championed the economic power of quality education and immigration policies that fit the country’s needs. The nation is not yet at maximum employment, he said, and as wages grow he expects even more Americans to join the workforce.

On a local level, he told the Senate Finance Committee his branch is conducting an eight-year study of Minneapolis’ increased minimum wage and what it means for workers, businesses and the economy. The committee also recently hired a professor to lead a long-term study of disparities in education and health care and come up with solutions.

“We are desperate for movement in these areas. They are absolutely stymying our economy,” Finance Committee Chairwoman Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said of the disparities.

The Federal Reserve Bank’s research can give legislators data and analysis they need to come up with financial solutions, Kashkari said. Many of the issues he highlighted overlap with legislators’ top priorities, and state lawmakers pressed him to provide them with more information on Federal Reserve Bank research in the future.

Kashkari, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for California governor before taking the job in Minnesota, emphasized that the private market has the power to fix some of the problems he raised.

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