The Rapid Growth of the Suburban Poor
By ELIZABETH KNEEBONE AND ALAN BERUBE
The release of local poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey this week delivered bleak news to communities across the country, bringing into focus the deepening impacts of an economically turbulent decade that began and ended in recession.
In the ten years that followed the economic high-water mark captured by the 2000 Census, poverty rates rose in 88 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. These increases were felt across cities and suburbs alike as their poverty rates grew by roughly equal degrees—3.0 percentage points in major metro-cities compared to 2.9 percentage points in the surrounding suburbs—though city poverty rates remained much higher than in suburbs. By 2010 more than one in five city residents was poor (20.9 percent), while 11.4 percent of suburbanites lived below the federal poverty level.