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St. Louis Fed Survey Highlights Economic Conditions in Low- and Moderate-Income Communities


ST. LOUIS—In a survey about the economic challenges facing low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in the Eighth Federal Reserve District, more people indicated that economic conditions were improving in LMI communities than said they were declining, though the majority reported conditions had remained the same as six months ago.

The feedback was part of the 2014 Community Development Outlook Survey, conducted and published by the Community Development function of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The survey results are based on responses from 377 representatives of multiple sectors in each of the seven states included in the Eighth District: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The survey breaks out responses for both rural and metropolitan areas.

Respondents represented community and economic development organizations, educational institutions (K-12 and colleges), financial institutions, government agencies, nonprofits, public officials and other community organizations.

Key District-wide findings include:

  • Job availability, generational poverty and education are the issues having the greatest negative impact on LMI households and communities and are the biggest challenges for the next generation in those communities.
  • Only 11 percent of respondents indicated that the well-being of LMI individuals in their areas and the ability of those individuals to meet their basic needs were improving compared with six months ago.
  • Almost half (44 percent) of nonprofit respondents said their funding sources had decreased over the previous six months.
  • About 28 percent of financial institutions surveyed reported increased demand for loans for community and/or economic development projects in their LMI communities.
  • About 29 percent of the respondents from community and economic development organizations reported increased interest in commercial real estate in the LMI communities they serve.
  • About 41 percent of the respondents from community and economic development organizations said they expected the business and job outlook for their LMI communities to improve.

For the full results, see the published survey.

For a visual representation of the findings of the survey, see the infographic highlighting the key results.

The survey is conducted annually, and its purpose is to inform community development practitioners about trends that affect LMI communities in the District, as well as guide the long-term programming of the St. Louis Fed’s community development efforts.