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Dramatic increase in poverty throughout U.S. suburbs present a bleak future

suburban poverty increased 105 percent between 2008 and 2012
suburban poverty increased 105 percent between 2008 and 2012
Christopher Sessums via Flickr

When people think of poverty and where it originates, inner city and urban areas come to mind. As most statistics show, urban centers are where most of the high-poverty neighborhoods are located, however, times are changing. In the 1990s poverty rates declined by 24 percent, but in the past six years poverty in the suburbs has grown at a much higher rate than that of urban areas completely reversing any previous progress.

Between the years of 2008 and 2012 the suburban poverty grew 105 percent. Almost half (46 percent) of all metro area’s impoverished remained in the suburbs. Among the countries largest metro areas, only three did not experience a higher percentage of poor living in the suburbs throughout the 2000s. Areas in southern parts of the United States displayed some of the largest increases in suburban poverty. Neighborhoods such as Winston-Salem, Augusta-Richmond, Greenville and Atlanta are a few that were most prominent.

There are many reasons why poor residents that would normally settle in urban areas have moved out to the suburbs. Gentrifying cities have forced many low income families to seek more affordable housing in the suburban regions. Also, suburban areas are often centered around manufacturing industries that more likely to experience negative economic progress. Often these jobs are replaced with low paying positions in service and retail. Since most of the low-income population in the US were located in urban centers, most of the social programs intended to alleviate poverty are based in these areas. Few programs have made their way out to the suburbs because they have not yet caught up to the changing demographics.

Although it is still true that concentrated poverty is greater in urban areas, the increasing population in the suburbs poses a risk for the future. Impoverished neighborhoods are more likely to have high crime rates, poor health, and subpar schools. This also brings about difficulty in economic mobility. As poverty spreads, many areas find they lack the necessary means to accommodate an increasing low-income population.

This recent boom in poverty expansion portrays the increasing gap between rich and poor. The middle class is slowly deteriorating and economic segregation is becoming more prevalent than ever. The widening income gap and limited economic mobility is a nation wide problem that affects the entire population. Higher crime rates, poor health and below average education are not the only negative effects of increasing poverty. National economic progress becomes stagnate leaving a large portion of the population in the dark.