The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty

Metropolitan Trends in the 2000s

Posted November 1, 2011
By the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings
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Despite the strong economy of the late 1990s, concentrated poverty persisted. The slowed economic growth of the early 2000s followed by the most severe economic downturn in decades led to increases in neighborhoods of extreme poverty once again throughout the nation. These neighborhoods are growing in suburban and small metropolitan communities, particularly in the Midwest.

Over a 10-year span, the country saw the poor population grow by 12.3 million, driving the total number of Americans in poverty to a historic high of 46.2 million – over 15% of the nation’s population living below the federal poverty line.

These trends have changed the location of poor households within urban, suburban and rural communities. Considering the geographic distribution of poverty is important to addressing social problems such as crime rates, poorer health outcomes, lower-quality educational opportunities and weaker job networks. Areas of concentrated poverty create a “double burden” by adding burdens set by where they live to their own personal burden of poverty.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

The nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas are home to two-thirds of the nation’s residents.

And over 60% of the country’s poor population. There is evidence that, as poverty has become increasingly present in suburban areas this decade, new clusters of low-income neighborhoods have emerged beyond the urban core in many of the nation’s largest metro areas.