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Press Release

Poverty in America: Federal Reserve Report Examines Diverse Locales, Common Challenges

Report includes Cleveland’s Central neighborhood and Martin County, Kentucky

Poverty knows no boundaries. It exists in large cities, smaller cities, immigrant gateways, suburban municipalities, and rural counties. A Federal Reserve report, "The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S.," looks at the varying social and economic contexts in 16 distressed communities. The findings will stimulate future efforts to better understand low-income communities and bring their issues to the forefront of policy discussions on poverty alleviation and community reinvestment.

Cleveland’s Central neighborhood and Martin County, Kentucky, are among the 16 areas examined in the report.

In the Central community, despite being served by a number of engaged and committed community development organizations, high poverty persists. Although employment opportunities exist nearby, job readiness and educational attainment levels are major challenges.

Residents in Martin County, located in a remote area of Eastern Kentucky, struggle with isolation, lack of educational attainment, and low labor force participation. Community involvement is limited in part by the mountainous topography and by residents’ feelings of frustration.

These are two seemingly different communities but, as with the other communities studied, common themes emerged:

  • History matters. Poverty and disadvantage have tended to concentrate in these locations over time, and decades of disinvestments are difficult to turn around.
  • High-poverty communities are isolated. Residents are often physically, socially, racially, and linguistically separated from the larger economy. Further, local organizations often lack the resources and capacity to respond to community needs.
  • Significant demographic changes, such as a rise in immigrant households, a rise in single-parent families, or both, have occurred.
  • Impoverished communities exist within both weak and strong regional economies.

For the case studies on Cleveland and Martin County, written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and the full report, click here.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479