Less than 1 in 4 Americans in survey know Janet Yellen is Fed chair

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen speaks to the media during her monthly news conference on Sept. 17.
(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)

Janet L. Yellen made history this year when she became the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, but most Americans apparently didn’t notice.

Just 24% correctly identified her as the central bank’s chair in results of a nationwide poll released Monday.

Nearly half of the respondents -- 48% -- in the Pew Research Center’s News IQ survey said they didn’t know who was the Fed’s current chair after being read a list that included Yellen and three other names.

Yellen was the most popular answer.


Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who stepped down in 2006, was picked by 17% of the 1,002 adults in the random telephone survey.

He was followed by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor with 6% and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts with 5%.

Yellen’s name recognition was well below the man she succeeded, Ben S. Bernanke, who gained prominence during the financial crisis and its aftermath.

He scored between 33% and 45% in three Pew News IQ surveys in 2008 and 2009.

Men were more likely than women to correctly identify Yellen, 29% to 19%. And 45% of college graduates got the question right.

The most recent survey, which was conducted in late September, asked respondents 12 multiple-choice questions about key people or issues in the news.

The Fed question had the third-lowest percentage of correct answers.

People were even more stumped by the share of Americans living below the poverty line and which of four categories, including Social Security and interest on the national debt, the federal government spends the most money on each year.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents -- 73% -- correctly identified the federal minimum wage.

You can take the quiz here and compare your results to the survey’s.

For breaking economic news, follow @JimPuzzanghera on Twitter