VOLUME 22 #2

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William L. Wascher, AS78

William Wascher
William L. Wascher

ALUMNI | William Wascher, an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System since 1983 who is known for his work on minimum wages and aggregate supply, returned to UD this spring to deliver the annual Hutchinson Lecture in macroeconomics.

The lecture, sponsored by the departments of Economics and of Finance, honors the late Harry D. Hutchinson, a professor of economics at UD from 1959–89.

“The collapse of the housing market bubble has led to the biggest drop in GDP and the largest unemployment rate since the Depression,” Wascher told the audience. “Recovery has been very slow.”

Data compiled by the Labor Department, he said, indicates that mortgage finance and real estate employment has not recovered. “Some companies are not rehiring lost workers. Some are closing permanently. Research on these displaced workers indicates there are longer downtimes between jobs than ever before,” Wascher said.

He identified problems that the unemployed face today, including a decrease in skill levels, lost relationships with colleagues who previously would have helped them and the stigma associated with being unemployed for a long time. Wascher added that many long-term unemployed people are finding that employers are more reluctant to rehire them, a phenomenon that did not occur after the 1982 recession.

“We feel that we may have lost a generation of new firms and also a generation of people who have given up on getting a job,” he said, arguing that more aggressive monetary and fiscal responses to the initial crisis might have further mitigated the damage.

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