The workers Janet Yellen is leaving behind

Andrew Harnik/AP

It's all but certain the Janet Yellen and the FOMC will raise interest rates this afternoon, and the decision will tell us some important information about how Fed officials see the economy and the U.S. labor force.

Why this matters: Economists think severe recessions are particularly painful because the inflict long-term joblessness on workers, a state that leads to erosion of skills employers demand. It's a vicious cycle that creates a class of degraded workers for whom indefinite joblessness is a common fate. Rising interest rates now may create an economy that leaves those workers behind.