The poor population in America’s suburbs — long a symbol of a stable and prosperous American middle class — rose by more than half after 2000, forcing suburban communities across the country to re-evaluate their identities and how they serve their populations.
The increase in the suburbs was 53 percent, compared with 26 percent in cities. The recession accelerated the pace: two-thirds of the new suburban poor were added from 2007 to 2010.
“The growth has been stunning,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis of census data. “For the first time, more than half of the metropolitan poor live in suburban areas.”…..
This shift has helped redefine the image of the suburbs. “The suburbs were always a place of opportunity — a better school, a bigger house, a better job,” said Scott Allard, an associate professor at the University of Chicago who focuses on social welfare policy and poverty. “Today, that’s not as true as the popular mythology would have us believe.”….
The double punch of the recession and the foreclosure crisis — which hit Cleveland and its suburbs particularly hard — has dragged middle-class people down the income ladder. As defined by the Census Bureau, the poverty line for a family of four was $22,314 last year…..
The unemployment rate among black Americans was 16 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — nearly double the national rate, a painful statistic in a suburb that is majority black…..
All of the above are excerpts from the 10/24/11 New York Times article A 53% Surge in Poverty Rate is Reshaping Suburbs