The New England Community Outlook Survey is a survey of service providers’ perceptions of the economic and financial conditions of lower-income communities and individuals in New England and the organizations that serve them.
In late 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Unit worked with an outside consultant to assess the quality of the information it assembles in the New England Community Outlook Survey and how the information is used by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and external organizations. The evaluation proved extremely informative, prompting changes to the survey instrument as well as to the reports. The survey’s frequency has been reduced from quarterly to semiannually, with surveys in April and October. The change was made based on information gathered during the evaluation, which suggests that circumstances do not change enough at the quarterly frequency to justify a quarterly survey. The report will continue to cover a broad array of topics while offering more in-depth focus on issues that resonate broadly with survey respondents. The report also includes more firsthand information from lower-income communities and compares the data to publicly available state, region, and national data. Readers will see an increase in the use of charts, maps, and infographics. Lastly, where appropriate, the Community Development Unit aims to supplement and triangulate survey results with additional information gathered by practitioners and policymakers: from interviews, focus groups, regional convenings, and the like.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston will continue to position the New England Community Outlook Survey as a leading indicator on the status and well-being of New England’s lower-income communities. We will build on the survey’s history as a source for reliable data and maintain its focus on identifying what practitioners know that can resonate broadly throughout New England and the Federal Reserve System.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston would like to thank all who helped improve the New England Community Outlook Survey and would appreciate any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In January 2011, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston launched the first New England Community Outlook Survey. The respondents represented organizations providing direct services to lower-income households. Organizations were asked to designate one senior staff member to respond to the six-minute survey. For the latest iteration of the survey, 157 service providers from the economic development, affordable housing, community action, human services, and workforce development sectors in each of the six New England states responded to 22 multiple-choice and fill-in questions. We asked respondents to comment on the changes in conditions over the previous six months and to project changes over the next six months. Respondents completed the survey between April 9 and April 29, 2013. Data collected represent the opinions of service providers who completed the survey. While we strive to include a reasonably representative sample in our survey, responses should not be interpreted to represent the opinions of all service providers in New England.
Top Three Challenges
1. Availability of Employment Opportunities