No Longer an Urban Problem, Poverty Surges in Suburbs


According to a New York Times article, more than half of those living in poverty in metropolitan areas live in suburban areas. The article lists at least nine metropolitan populations of which more than 50% live in the suburbs. Over the past ten years, these nine metropolitan areas have shifted to the majority of their poor being concentrated in the suburbs. The Detroit-Warren area has a larger share of its poor population living the the suburbs than any other metropolitan area, with 59% of its poor population living in the suburbs.
According to the article, tackling suburban poverty presents a unique set of challenges. Suburbs lack the relatively large number of social assistance programs which exist in urban areas. In addition, the lack of public transportation in suburban areas makes any social programs less accessible than they might be in urban areas.
Over the past ten years, the number of poor residents in suburbs has increased by five million. Midwestern suburbs were among those most affected. The article cites a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution to show that recently the rise in suburban poor has been the most pronounced in areas most affected by the housing collapse such as Cape Coral, Florida and Riverside, California.
Overall, a majority (55%) of the metropolitan poor now live in suburbs. Ten years ago, a little less than half (49%) of the metropolitan poor lived in the suburbs. Although growth of poverty in the suburbs has been more pronounced than in urban areas, the poverty rate in suburbs is still far below that in urban areas. In 2010, the suburban poverty rate was 11.4%. The urban poverty rate was 20.9%.

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