Round table discussion with group of people

If you are reading this, you are likely part of a large network of community experts across the Southeast. The Community and Economic Development (CED) staff at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta wants to cultivate and stay in regular contact with this network because you are an integral partner in our work—and we need your help.

At the Atlanta Fed we synthesize and elevate what we learn from convenings, interviews, focus groups, and both quantitative and qualitative data analysis. By doing so, we aim to further diversify voices included in policy deliberations within the Atlanta Fed and the broader Federal Reserve System while also sharing community trends with the broader public.

One example of the way we amplify community-based economic concerns is through the Beige Book. The Federal Reserve System publishes a Beige Book eight times in year. In it are anecdotes that summarize economic conditions from all twelve Federal Reserve Districts. Four times a year the Atlanta Fed publishes community insights in the Beige Book, which now includes a Community Perspectives section that highlights dynamics impacting low- to moderate-income communities throughout the Southeast.

Here is how the Atlanta Fed synthesized information from our community partners in the most recent Beige Book:

The discontinuation of pandemic era programs such as enhanced SNAP and child tax credit programs, emergency rental assistance, and extended Medicaid coverage—compounded by rising costs—continued to negatively impact many households. Housing expenses remained an acute burden for both consumers and providers of affordable housing. Consumer-facing business contacts noted that low- and moderate-income consumers shifted spending to less expensive items and opted for extended payments products. Social service organizations reported heightened demand for food and housing assistance. Most contacts at these organizations reported sufficient funding to help meet the increased demand for services. Local government and non-profit representatives experienced continued strong demand for skilled labor, while citing insufficient training as a significant obstacle for local jobseekers looking to secure employment in aligned higher wage occupations.

Crucially, we can’t tell these stories without your help. Moreover, our process for synthesizing and elevating underrepresented Southeastern perspectives continues to evolve. As we advance this work, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to us here to share your economic conditions in your area, as well as your feedback on how we can make this process valuable to your community’s priorities.

By Grace Meagher, CED analyst; John Rees, senior policy adviser; Julie Siwicki, CED adviser; and Tiffani Williams, senior CED advisor. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.