Many Americans take access to credit for granted. It's easy for them to underestimate the importance of credit. But without it, a person's economic advancement may become more challenging. For example, in many areas, the inability to secure an auto loan — and thus, a car — could limit employment options, access to healthy food, or medical care.Different people have disparate experiences in accessing credit. For those who are financially underserved, the market has produced credit alternatives. But many of those alternatives, such as payday lenders, offer unfavorable terms that often ...
Commuting Patterns and Economic Connectivity in the Fifth District
One way of measuring economic connectivity across locations is by examining the commuting behavior of residents. This article explores how connected counties in the Fifth District are by focusing on commuting.
District Digest: Measuring Social Capital Across the Fifth District
How cliquey is your community? How often do people from different income groups in your area befriend one another? Do your neighbors volunteer their time to charitable causes? Social scientists have long studied social capital — the strength and value of social networks within communities — as well as its effects on economic, health, and political outcomes. Political scientists have linked higher civic engagement with the strength of democratic institutions, while economists have studied the role that friendships across socioeconomic statuses might have in fostering economic mobility.
At the Richmond Fed: Community Conversations
When Tom Barkin became president of the Richmond Fed in 2018, he made it his goal to spend time in every part of the Fifth District to stay well-informed about its communities. (See "Learning From Our District,") One of the ways the Richmond Fed's research department supports this goal is through an event series known as Community Conversations. These are one- or two-day road trips to visit with business and community leaders and learn about an area's challenges and successes.
CDFIs on the Prize: Recent Federal Awards for Community Development Financial Institutions
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are mission-driven banks, credit unions, loan funds, and venture capital funds that expand financial access to low-and-moderate income (LMI) and underserved populations.In the past two years, after recognizing CDFIs' ability to reach and serve populations that were hard hit by the pandemic, Congress appropriated a total of $12 billion to the industry through three special programs. The money was allocated to the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The scale of these funds set aside for CDFIs is ...
Updates to Rural and Urban Areas Based on the 2020 Census
Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated boundaries for urban areas based on the 2020 census. These definitions are widely used by analysts, researchers, and government agencies. Federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education incorporate the designations into their own urban-rural classifications. The U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development use census-based classifications in their funding formulas and to make decisions about program eligibility. This post examines the U.S. Census ...
The Fifth District Labor Market: Normalization or the Beginning of a Slowdown?
The U.S. labor market continues to surprise economists and forecasters with its resilience. In 2023, employers have added more than 300,000 jobs per month on average, and that's after adding around 500,000 jobs per month on average throughout 2021 and 2022. The unemployment rate is persistently low, and the job postings rate remains extremely high. There are, however, some signs of slowing. In addition to job postings falling from its peak, the pace of job and wage growth has slowed.Reports from employers in the Fifth Federal Reserve District have been similarly strong, but with signs of ...
From Good Bones to Healthy Homes: Housing Quality in the Rural Fifth District
We've previously explored how rural Fifth District households encounter housing affordability challenges, finding low-to-moderate income (LMI) households to be at greatest risk. A home's quality can also profoundly affect residents' well-being. Resolving housing quality issues caused by repair needs can be quite costly. If left unaddressed, housing quality issues can lead to stress or chronic illness, which in turn can hurt adults' workforce activity and children's educational outcomes. As with affordability, not all households are equally likely to face housing quality challenges. In the ...
Households Confront the End of Pandemic-Era Assistance Programs
The U.S. government, beginning in March 2020, took extraordinary measures in response to the emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus. Through policy changes and major spending bills, the federal government directed funds to help states, localities, and households manage the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. Two of the many measures that the government took to directly aid households were increasing the flexibility and benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and pausing federal student loan payments. Now that enhanced SNAP benefits have ended and ...
Are Signs of Labor Market Normalization Reflected in Wage Growth?
There have been two salient features of the U.S. economy in the past two years: a tight labor market and high inflation. In the Richmond Fed business surveys, the tight labor market has manifested in a high employment index combined with a low availability of skills index; high inflation has corresponded with extreme elevation in our survey's measures of growth in prices paid and prices received. Recently, all of these survey measures have either reached or made notable progress toward reaching more historically normal levels. It is hard to imagine, however, a rebalanced labor market or ...