Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday called for more lending to people and small businesses in lower-income neighborhoods, saying they've been disproportionately hurt by the recession.
Many of the nation's poorest communities were struggling before the downturn, Bernanke said at Fed conference on community development in Arlington, Va.
The recession officially ended two years ago. Bernanke said the national economy is growing at a moderate pace and that job creation is gradually improving, repeating comments he made earlier this week at a news conference after the Fed's policy meeting.
But the unemployment rate remains high. For many poor and working-class Americans, it doesn't feel like a recovery.
Lending to creditworthy people and small businesses in troubled communities can stimulate economic activity that can generate local tax revenues, he noted.
Tax revenues can then be spent in the community redeveloping vacant properties, training people for new jobs, or on other economic development programs. That leads to more hiring and paychecks that can help poor homeowners avoid foreclosure, he said.
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