Study finds poverty in US shifting to suburbs

Study finds poverty in US shifting to suburbs
Tue Aug 5, 2014 4:34AM GMT

The number of Americans living in poverty remains stubbornly stuck at record levels and more of those residents now live in US suburbs rather than in big cities, according to a new study.

The study by the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington, indicates that the number of poor US residents living in distressed suburban neighborhoods grew by nearly 140 percent from 2000 to 2012.

The Great Recession reversed the economic gains that helped reduce poverty rates in the late 1990s, but has also concentrated poverty inside suburban communities, many of which now have higher poverty rates that the inner cities they surround, the study said.

The report says the suburbs of almost every major metropolitan area have seen an influx of the poor, with the metro areas of the southern and western states having the highest concentrations.

Brookings also found that many of the suburban communities are ill-equipped to deal with the needs of an increasingly concentrated low-income population.

“The fact that so many of these neighborhoods and residents are located in suburbs only adds to the challenge and the need for urgency, because many of these communities are ill-equipped and unprepared to deal with the needs of a growing and increasingly concentrated low-income population,” wrote Elizabeth Kneebone, the report’s author and fellow for Brookings’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

In suburban neighborhoods with more than 20 percent of the population living in poverty, 37 percent of the residents are white, 36 percent Latino and 20 percent black. Of the higher-poverty suburban poor, 22 percent are foreign born and 28 percent are children.