With the economy still reeling from the financial crisis and unemployment running high in 2011, officials at the Federal Reserve blamed drugs for the much of the problems, and joked about people who couldn't even fill out job applications properly.
Recently released transcripts from Federal Open Market Committee meetings provide a window into how central bank leaders saw the jobless problem. The FOMC is the central bank's policy-making arm and includes regional presidents and Fed governors from across the country.
The Nov. 1-2, 2011 meeting featured some lighthearted banter about the economic problems bedeviling the country, as well as serious discussion about solutions.
Unemployment averaged about 9 percent through the year after peaking at 10 percent in October 2009. At the time, the world also was preoccupied with a sovereign debt crisis in Europe and an anemic U.S. economy that saw GDP growth of just 1.6 percent in 2011.
For some members, though, the problems went beyond policy.
"I frequently hear of jobs going unfilled because a large number of applicants have difficulty passing basic requirements like drug tests, or simply demonstrating the requisite work ethic," then-Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said at one point.
He went on to relate an anecdote from one contact.
"As an example, one contact in the staffing industry told us that during their pretesting process, a majority — actually, 60 percent of applicants — failed to answer '0' to the question of how many days a week it's acceptable to miss work," Plosser said.
The transcript notes "laughter" after the observation. The remarks were first reported in The Intercept.