Fed Survey Shows COVID Worsening Conditions in Low- and Moderate-Income Communities

For immediate release: November 9, 2020

A national Federal Reserve survey of organizations serving low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities shows that eight months into the pandemic, many aspects of life—from employment to education to public health—are deteriorating.

"Perspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Low- to Moderate-Income Communities and the Entities Serving Them" is the latest survey of government agencies, nonprofits, financial institutions, and other organizations. It was conducted in October and included 1,127 respondents who work on a range of issues within their LMI communities. Respondents represented a mix of U.S. urban, suburban, and rural areas across all 50 states as well as U.S. territories.

Key findings:

  • 55 percent of organizations said income loss, job loss, or unemployment impacts from COVID-19 got modestly or significantly worse in their LMI communities since August; 24 percent said these got modestly or significantly better.
  • 44 percent said impacts on basic consumer needs (changes in needs for housing, food, and other personal needs) worsened since August; 22 percent said things got better.
  • 51 percent indicated that disruptions to business (for example, short- or long-term closures, supply chain disruptions, or reduced demand) worsened since August; 26 percent said these got better.
  • 58 percent reported that impacts on education worsened since August, such as through disruptions to childcare, K-12, and higher education; only 19 percent said things got better.
  • 45 percent said pandemic-related impacts on health worsened; 19 percent said these got better. This includes changes in access to adequate health care and insurance or impacts on mental and physical health.

When asked how COVID-19 has affected their organization or agency, about two thirds said demand for their services has increased as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than a third noted a corresponding decrease in their ability to provide services in LMI communities. This was similar to findings from the same survey administered in August.

The full survey results from October, as well as previous surveys from August, June, and April, are available at frbatlanta.org/covidsurvey-communities.

The Federal Reserve seeks to promote the economic resilience and mobility of individuals and communities across the United States, including LMI and underserved households. Increasing economic opportunity is not only good for individuals and communities but also is vital to the overall economy. Amid the pandemic, the Fed is deepening its existing outreach to gather useful information as conditions evolve.

Contact: Karen Mracek | 470-249-8348