Poor people in rural communities need more help with education, credit access and business ownership, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday.
At the national level, the data show “a strong economy,” Powell said.
“Unemployment is near a half-century low, and economic output is growing at a solid pace,” he added.
“But we know that prosperity has not been felt as much in some areas, including many rural places,” Powell said, in remarks to a conference on rural poverty sponsored by Hope Enterprise Corp. at Mississippi Valley State University.
The Fed chairman said 70% of the 473 “persistent poverty” counties in the U.S. are rural.
To alleviate the poverty, Powell stressed the need for more early childhood education in rural counties.
He also said “successful” communities must help residents start small businesses.
“Entrepreneurship has the potential to play a greater role in poor rural areas, particularly in areas whose residents are predominantly black and other people of color,” he said.
Access to safe and affordable financial services is vital in this regard, Powell said.
Revisions to the Community Reinvestment Act, now under consideration by the Trump administration, should “more effectively encourage banks to seek opportunities in underserved areas,” he said.
Earlier, Powell told students at the college that he did not think the risks of a recession had moved higher.