White Picket Fence Poverty

It’s on the rise:

According to a new report put out by the Brookings Institute, more poor inhabitants of the U.S. now live in suburbs than in cities and rural areas. Between 2002 and 2011, the population of the suburban poor rose 67%. That’s over twice the number seen in urban areas.

Brad Plumer summarizes key points from the report:

The biggest driver is that suburbs simply grew faster than urban areas during the 2000s, particularly in the South. At the same time, jobs have been migrating to the suburbs for many years — and that includes low-paying jobs in retail and hospitality. As a result, many of the working poor have been moving to the suburbs, too.

Reihan’s perspective:

[T]he fact that a fifth of New York city’s population lives in poverty while the same is true of only 9 percent of the population in its suburbs doesn’t represent a failing — rather, it reflects the fact that density and the widespread availability of mass transit are particularly valuable to the poor, who find it more difficult to purchase and maintain automobiles and for whom density facilitates greater access to service jobs. … So suburban poverty poses problems that poverty in dense cities well-served by transit does not. The problem we face is that the U.S. has relatively few dense cities that are well-served by transit, as such cities can greatly facilitate upward mobility for the very poor.