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Opioids Causing Job and Economic Problems, Not Just Health

Indiana's senior senator questioned Fed Chair Janet Yellen on how the economy is being affected.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The opioid crisis is not just a problem for police or doctors. It's a problem for the economy and the Federal Reserve needs to help, says Sen. Joe Donnelly. Indiana's senior senator questioned Fed Chair Janey Yellen on the Senate floor about the economic impact and suggested the Federal Reserve take action.

The conversation

"Hoosiers of all ages and background have been impacted," said Donnelly. "It not only impacts health outcomes, but has a real consequence on economic and employment opportunities."

Some manufacturing jobs in northern Indiana, that don't involved operating heavy machinery, are going without drug testing because so many people are addicted that there is a shortage of workers.

"There seems to be a clear indication or a clear connection between this (opioid addiction) and the opportunity to go to a job, to get employed, to have success," said Donnelly to Yellen.

"I agree," she said. "I do think it is related to decline in labor force participation."

Donnelly, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, urged the Federal Reserve to explore and devote resources to supplement federal government efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. 

The Senators wrote a joint letter to the Federal Reserve to ask them to further research this area in order to formulate policy responses to reduce and prevent further opioid use.

“This is not just a public health and law enforcement matter. This is an economic matter,” the Senators wrote. “We believe the Federal Reserve System, including the research departments at the Board and regional Reserve Banks, is in a unique position to help policymakers better understand the impact of the opioid epidemic on labor force participation rates, full employment, and on overall economic activity in communities.”

Earlier this year, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which will study ways the Federal Government can combat and treat epidemic. 

PHOTO: Sen. Joe Donnelly

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