“While employment and housing show signs of improving for the nation as a whole, conditions in lower-income neighborhoods remain difficult by many measures.”
Chairman Ben Bernanke, Creating Resilient Communities At the "Resilience and Rebuilding for Low-Income Communities: Research to Inform Policy and Practice," Federal Reserve System Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, DC, April 12, 2013
This recovery has been slow for New England’s lower-income communities, which are yet to realize the same rate of recovery as more affluent ones. Four years into the recovery, service providers continue to see no change or a decrease in their clients’ financial well-being. (Figure 10) While the United States manages a difficult and at times sluggish economic recovery, New England’s lower-income communities continue to shed low-wage jobs. Their residents are unable to secure higher paying jobs, most likely because of a lack of education or training. If this trend continues, it ensures further income disparities, which economists and service providers alike suggest lead to additional long-term negative effects on the social and economic well-being of the region. The housing market has been a focal point of the recovery, and recent reports appear cautiously optimistic about its recovery. Like the job market, housing has been slow to rebound and service providers seem largely neutral or pessimistic about availability of affordable housing. In fact, the very nature of the housing recovery entails rising home prices, which may indicate economic strength but could put good-quality, affordable housing even further out of reach for low-income residents.
This economic recovery has been a story of two recoveries, a positive one for New England’s middle- and upper-income communities and a very different recovery for those in the moderate- and lower-income brackets. The New England Community Outlook Survey will continue to ask service providers to help us understand how lower-income communities in New England are faring and how the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston can provide insight on the issues.
1. Employment in New England