Friday, February 09, 2007

Is Poverty Shifting towards the Suburbs?

The Brookings Institution has released an interesting report, titled "Two Steps Back: City and Suburban Poverty Trends 1999–2005," on demographic trends that shows that measures the poverty rates in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Surprisingly, in some metro areas, poverty rates are climbing in the suburbs faster than they are in central cities:
Population and income dynamics meanwhile continue to shift the geography of poverty within major metropolitan areas of the United States. Cities and suburbs have both experienced rising poverty rates, but faster population growth in suburbs has tipped the balance of poor populations towards suburbs.
The New York, Washington DC, Richmond VA, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Stockton CA metro areas showed declines in the poverty rates in their central cities from 1999 to 2005. Portland-Vancouver OR-WA, Omaha NE and three central cities each in Ohio, Michigan, Texas showed increases in central city poverty rates.
Suburbs in seven states showed increases in poverty rates. The suburbs of Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in CA showed declines in poverty rates.
A quick glance at the data leads me to offer to several snap conclusions:
First, the rust belt (including Texas) is in trouble; central cities and suburbs are experiencing higher poverty rates in OH, MI and TX.
Second, central cities on the east coast are coming back. For instance, Wilmington (which isn’t classified as a top 100 metro area by the U.S. Census) has been adding populations since 1980. This trend is picking up in the current decade led by the shiny new residences in former DuPont Company buildings and along the Christina waterfront.
Third, this could represent a sea change in the geography, and politics, of poverty in some of our metro areas. It’s a report worth reading.

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