U.S. Poverty Moves To Suburbs

The suburban poor outnumbered inner-city counterparts for the first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a study of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas released today.

“Economies are regional now,” said Alan Berube, who co-wrote the report for the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Where you see increases in city poverty, in almost every metropolitan area, you also see increases in suburban poverty.”

Nationally, the poverty rate leveled off last year at 12.6 percent after increasing every year since the decade began. It was a period during which the country went through a recession and an uneven recovery that is sputtering in parts of the Northeast and Midwest.

The federal government defined the poverty level as $15,577 for a family of three in 2005.

The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is higher than it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent). But the overall number of people living in poverty is higher in the suburbs, in part because of population growth.

In 1999, the number of poor people living in cities and suburbs was roughly even, at about 10.3 million each, according to the report. Last year, the suburban poor outnumbered their urban counterparts by about 1.2 million.

Cleveland was the city with the highest poverty rate last year, at 32.4 percent. McAllen, Texas, was the suburb with the highest poverty rate, at 43.9 percent.

Read entire AP article.

It’s hard to imagine a family of three of living on a 16 thousand income, but such a family wouldn’t even be considered poor with the low numbers the government uses to determine the poverty rate. With a more appropriate number, I imagine the suburban poor would outnumber the urban poor by even more; especially since the cost of living is higher for the suburban poor.

These new findings demonstrate that the problem of poverty isn’t some tiny foriegn issue affecting strangers. Poverty is a major widespread issue affecting our own communities. In fact, most Americans live in debt. Although, obedient middle-class Americans can put food on their tables with credit-cards, an economic recession or a hike in interest rates could quickly bring back a new American depression and put physical hunger right into the lives of the average working-class American.

Americans could effectively eliminate this threat by making fundamental change to the economic status quo. This change doesn’t need to come from the government, but rather the American people can stop participating in the credit-based economic system and instead utilize habits that retain the wealth in the working-class communities. Currently, the working-class is trapped by a government-backed credit-based economic system in which a lazy unproductive ruling class (namely the bankers and corporate shareholders) weasel the wealth from the productive masses via theft and manipulation. Suburban poverty is a symptom of this non-meritocratic social inequality.

Published by Scott Hughes

I am the author of Achieve Your Dreams. I also published the book Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self-Destruction. I have two kids who I love so much. I just want to be a good role model for them. I hope what I do here makes them proud of me. Please let me know you think about the post by leaving a comment below!