The increasingly suburban face of poverty

Poverty rates are still higher in major cities (20.9%) than in suburbs (11.4%), according to a Brookings analysis of American Community Survey Census data, but the trends are both interesting and disturbing.

America’s suburbs became home to 3.4 million people in poverty from 2007 to 2010, while the number of poor in cities increased by 2 million.

From the Brookings analysis of the 2000 to 2010 data:

Poor populations continued their decade-long shift toward suburban areas. A combination of factors including overall population growth, job decentralization, aging of housing, immigration, region-wide economic decline, and policies to promote mobility of low-income households led increasing shares of the poor to inhabit suburbs over the decade. From 2000 to 2010, the number of poor individuals in major-metro suburbs grew 53 percent, compared to 23 percent in cities. In 16 metro areas, including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee, the suburban poor population more than doubled during that time. The recession merely served to accelerate the trend, as suburbs added 3.4 million poor from 2007 to 2010—1.4 million more poor individuals than cities.

Here in Georgia, the number of suburban poor in Atlanta more than doubled over the last decade. Savannah is not among the nation’s largest 100 metro areas, so we’re not on the list. I’ve love to see the data locally; my guess is that we’d be closer to the national norms than we’d like.

If more poor people continue to live in the suburbs, that will inevitably impact the suburban economies.

I’ll try to follow up more on this in a future post.