federal reserve chairman ben bernanke
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Friday that despite improvements in the U.S. economy overall, the country's lower-income communities continue to face hard times.

"While employment and housing show signs of improving for the nation as a whole, conditions in lower-income neighborhoods remain difficult by many measures," Bernanke said in prepared remarks that made no direct reference to monetary policy.

In a speech to a Fed community affairs conference, the chairman also stressed the vital role played by local leaders in revitalizing lower income communities, citing research by the Boston Fed of towns that had managed to turn things around.

"Substantial coordination and dedication are needed to break through silos to simultaneously improve housing, connect residents to jobs, and help ensure access to adequate nutrition, health care, education, and day care,' Bernanke said.

The 2008 collapse of the U.S. housing market and subsequent deep recession has deepened the plight of many lower-income communities, where unemployment has soared far above national levels, particularly for young people and minorities.

Reporting By Alister Bull; editing by Neil Stempleman.



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