Yellen: U.S. facing an ‘American tragedy’

"It's an American tragedy and it's essential that we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn, causing yet more devastation," Yellen said.

Yellen spoke at an event where Biden formally introduced his top economic policy advisers as his administration prepares to take power amid a slowing economic recovery hampered by the resurgent pandemic.

Yellen, who previously served as U.S. Federal Reserve Chair, said the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the most needy and it is essential to move with urgency. She also said it is key to make sure the economic recovery includes everyone.

Yellen and other advisers have also expressed support for government stimulus to maximize employment, reduce economic inequality and help women and minorities, who have been disproportionately hurt by the economic downturn.

Video Transcript

JANET YELLEN: The pandemic and economic fallout that together have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us-- lost lives, lost jobs, small businesses struggling to stay alive or closed for good, so many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent-- it's an American tragedy. And it's essential that we move with urgency.

Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn, causing yet more devastation. And we risk missing the obligation to address deeper structural problems-- inequality, stagnant wages, especially for workers who lack a college education, communities that have seen industry disappear with no good jobs replacing lost ones. Racial disparities in pay, job opportunities, housing, food security, and small business lending that deny wealth-building to communities of color. Gender disparities that keep women out of the workforce and keep our economy from running at full force. It's a convergence of tragedies that is not only economically unsustainable, but one that betrays our commitment to giving every American an equal chance to get ahead.

But I know this team will never give up that commitment. As you've said before, Mr President-elect, out of our collective pain as a nation, we will find collective purpose to control the pandemic and build our economy back better than before.