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Chicago Fed Letter

Best Practices for Financing Illinois Infrastructure: A Conference Summary

Richard H. Mattoon and Sarah Wetmore

On April 5, 2019, more than 140 academics, business leaders, government officials, and policy researchers came to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to explore how best to design and finance an infrastructure program for Illinois. The program, presented by the Civic Federation and the Chicago Fed, focused on how to improve the transparency of infrastructure project selection and to ensure that sustainable funding is identified to support efficient infrastructure operation.

Does Automation Always Lead to a Decline in Low-Wage Jobs?

Daniel Aaronson and Brian J. Phelan

To what extent are low-wage jobs in the United States being replaced by technology? Our research suggests that low-wage jobs that are intensive in routine cognitive tasks, such as cashier, were supplanted by automation during the 2000s. Moreover, since the Great Recession, jobs intensive in both routine manual and routine cognitive tasks have been negatively impacted by automation. Nevertheless, the overall effect on individual low-wage workers has been surprisingly small.

Community Banking: A Time of Promise and Challenge

Jeff Bonham, Paul Curtis-Wittenberg, Whitney Hanson, Pamela Kennedy, Robert Millerick, and Gregory Rensink

The 13th annual Community Bankers Symposium, cosponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on November 16, 2018. During a full day of speeches and panels, a group of 160 community bank executives, financial industry practitioners, and regulatory agency professionals who work in the Seventh Federal Reserve District1 explored the evolving landscape of community banking.2 This article provides an overview of the event’s key presentations and discussions.

Technology’s Impact on Farming and the Rural Midwest

David B. Oppedahl

On November 27, 2018, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held a conference to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies to farms and rural areas in the Midwest and other parts of the U.S. Experts from academia, industry, and policy institutions gathered to discuss how technological advances have reshaped the rural economy and how they may affect its future.

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