Skip to content

Generational Poverty Tops Jobs as Biggest Concern for LMI Communities


Years of struggling to make financial ends meet is taking its toll on low- and moderate-income (LMI) households and communities, according to 2015 Community Development Outlook Survey responses.

Respondents ranked generational poverty – families in poverty for at least two generations – as the greatest issue affecting LMI areas.

The Community Development department of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis conducted the annual survey and published the results in late November.  The results are based on responses from 373 representatives of multiple sectors in each of the seven states in the District: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

For the first time since the survey was created in 2011, job availability was not ranked as having the greatest negative impact. This year, 22.4 percent of respondents said generational poverty is the No. 1 issue, 20.7 percent of respondents selected job availability and 16.3 percent selected education.

Other key District-wide findings include:

  • Overall, most respondents (63.7 percent) said they believed that general economic conditions in LMI areas were the same when asked to compare them with six months earlier.
  • If funding were not an issue, 27.4 percent of all respondents said they would improve workforce development programs to improve the outlook for LMI individuals; 26.8 percent chose redevelopment of areas to stimulate business and job growth.
  • City, state and federal leadership was seen by 20.8 percent of nonprofit respondents as a barrier to increasing the economic stability of LMI households. That’s up from 7.9 percent in 2014.
  • Nearly 40 (39.7) percent of community and economic development organization respondents anticipated an increase in jobs this year in LMI areas; only 9.6 percent expected a decrease.

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.

Respondents represented community and economic development organizations, schools and colleges, financial institutions, government agencies, public officials, nonprofits and other community organizations. The survey breaks out responses from both rural and metropolitan areas.

The purpose of the survey 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.