ECONOMY

Yellen: Banks play vital economic role in poor communities

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says U.S. banks must do all they can to promote economic development in low-income areas where high unemployment has persisted despite the overall job market's significant gains.

Yellen tells community development groups that banks are needed not just to provide home mortgages in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods but also to support educational opportunities and to bolster the development of small businesses.

The Fed chair says workforce development is especially important to allow job seekers in such communities to keep up with changes in the economy caused by global competition and advances in technology.

Yellen's remarks came in a speech in Washington to the annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.