November 2011

Income Inequality’s Impact on Community Development - Volume 23, Issue 2

This issue of Community Investments explores the issue of income inequality from a community development perspective, examining the broad trends that have contributed to its rise as well as the impact of inequality at the individual and community level. The articles consider different facets of income inequality, such as the geographic segregation of income groups at the neighborhood and regional level, and the increasing polarization of the labor market. A "Community Perspectives" thought piece examines the causes and consequences of the broad changes in income distribution. In addition, we address the impact of poverty stressors on LMI households. Our "Eye on Community Development" section highlights important advancements in the community development field, including the CDFI Bond Program and new approaches to addressing adult literacy. We hope this issue of CI sheds light on the complex topic of income inequality in the United States, and more importantly, on the community development field’s role in addressing it.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or the Federal Reserve System. Material herein may be reprinted or abstracted provided Community Investments is credited. Please provide our Community Development Department with a copy of any publication in which material is reprinted.

Read the full issue (pdf, 2.66 mb)

Table of Contents

CI Notebook

A number of American companies are recognizing that the consumer market is polarizing, with growth at both ends, and erosion in the middle.  This “consumer hourglass” is reflective of a broader trend of increasing income inequality in the United States.

Addressing Widening Income Inequality through Community Development

An overview of the history, causes, and current implications for the community development field of widening income inequality in America.

Ties that Bind: Income Inequality and Income Segregation

Widening inequality is experienced not at the national level, but rather on a community by community basis. Learn about income inequality and its relationship to income segregation.

The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market

An in-depth analysis of the state of the U.S. labor market over the past three decades reveals that the U.S. labor market is polarizing into low- and high-skill jobs, with fewer opportunities in the middle.

Community Perspectives: Widening Inequality Hurts Us All

A thought piece by the former Secretary of Labor on the causes and consequences of our nation’s rising inequality.

Stressing Out the Poor: Chronic Physiological Stress and the Income-Achievement Gap

This article explores the link between childhood poverty and the negative effects of prolonged exposure to stressful environments.

CDFI Bond – Opportunity of a Decade

Learn about the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, which offers affordable, long term, government guaranteed debt financing to promote community and economic development.

Building Literacy Skills and Transforming Lives

Over 30 million adults in the U.S. can’t read or write well enough to perform daily tasks. Read about successful approaches to building adult literacy skills.

Research Briefs

Research briefs on economic downturns and inequality, the low income housing tax credit and racial segregation, and defaults and saving among low-income tax filers.

Doctor CRA

We’re all waiting anxiously for word from Washington on the changes to the CRA. While we’re waiting, is there anything I can do to be getting ready?

Data Snapshot: Income Inequality

Average household income (post-tax), real family income, and the Gini Index.