St. Louis Fed Pilots Low- and Moderate-Income Survey

January 01, 2012
By  Andrew A Pack

The Federal Reserve’s Community Development department gives financial institutions, community-based organizations and government entities the tools they need to effectively address community development issues affecting low- and moderate-income individuals and communities.

To help us accomplish that goal, last fall the St. Louis Fed’s Community Development department launched a low- and moderate-income (LMI) survey that gathers information from a wide array of community stakeholders across the Eighth Federal Reserve District. The aim was to gain a better understanding of the challenges and economic well-being of LMI individuals and communities.

An analysis of the responses revealed a few key findings:

  • The lack of job availability, insufficient educational attainment and inadequate job skills were overwhelmingly cited as the current and future issues most negatively affecting LMI individuals and communities.
  • Seventy percent of respondents said that, if funding were not an issue, they would redevelop areas of their communities to bring in more businesses and jobs and/or increase access to education and workforce development programs to help the LMI community.
  • Community and economic developers reported that, in attempts to grow and create new businesses in LMI areas, small businesses showed the most interest in available sites.
  • Globalization is impacting urban and rural LMI communities in very different ways. Respondents in metropolitan areas believe that globalization offers more opportunities, while respondents in rural areas indicate that globalization is having a negative impact by creating fewer opportunities for their communities.
  • About a third of respondents believe that LMI individuals in their service area are worse off than those in other areas.
  • Only four percent of respondents believe that LMI individuals can adequately meet their basic needs.
  • Attitudes toward the importance of homeownership as a means to help LMI individuals build assets may be changing. Owning a house was identified by only 11 percent of respondents as one of the top ways to increase the financial stability of LMI households. Avoiding debt, increasing savings and entrepreneurship all ranked higher than owning a house.

The full report is available at In the future, the St. Louis Fed plans to conduct its LMI survey biannually, with results reported online.

Bridges is a regular review of regional community and economic development issues. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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