The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America

Alan Berube and Elizabeth Kneebone
Elizabeth Kneebone
Elizabeth Kneebone Former Nonresident Senior Fellow

October 24, 2008

The Federal Reserve System and its 12 member banks partnered with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program to produce a new, in-depth look at concentrated poverty in America. The two-year study, The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America, profiles 16 high-poverty communities across the United States, investigating the historical and contemporary factors associated with their high levels of economic distress.

The report is the first to analyze concentrated poverty and its impacts across the wide range of community types in which it occurs–urban, small city, and rural; white, black, Latino, and Native American; growing and declining; and every region of the United States. It finds that all of these communities face obstacles related to under-performing local schools and low adult labor market skills; insufficient quality and diversity of housing; lack of mainstream commercial investment; and the limited capacity of local public, private, and non-profit organizations to navigate this suite of challenges. Strategies to help both poor places and the people who live within them are needed to tackle the double burden of concentrated poverty in America today.

Federal Reserve Resources »