Poverty Is Increasing WAY Faster In the Suburbs Than In the Cities (Infographic)

Poverty is often thought of as a predominantly urban problem. The inner city tends to be the most impoverished with wealth generally increasing as you get further and further out into the surrounding suburbs.

However, this trend may be reversing. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, poverty in the suburbs rose a whopping 25% while poverty in cities only rose 5.6%.

The infographic below shows how poverty rates changes in the urban areas and the suburbs of the largest U.S. cities during that time period (click to enlarge):

The figures in the infographic above are from a Brookings Institute study released in 2010. A year later, the Institute released another study, this time estimating that suburban poverty rose by 64% between 2000 and 2011.

There are a number of reasons for this trend. The first is simply that more people are moving from the cities to the suburbs.

The suburbs, particularly in the South, having been growing much faster than the urban areas. With growing suburbs come businesses like retail and restaurants, which employ primarily lower-wage workers.

With these new businesses requiring more and more low wage work, more affordable housing options have been emerging in the suburbs as well.

As a result, many of the poorer people living in the cities have migrated to the suburbs. The 2000s were the first time the suburban population surpassed the urban population in the U.S.

Total number of people living in poverty: cities vs. suburbs. Click to enlarge

Another big factor was the recession of 2008, which hit the manufacturing and construction industries especially hard. Both of those industries are based primarily in suburban areas, further increasing suburban poverty rates.

To read more about the increasing trend of poverty in the suburbs and learn more about the Brookings Institute’s 2011 report, check out this Washington Post piece from last year.


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