Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poverty Is Claiming the Suburbs

The image of the city as the place where the poor lives has to be changed because this masks the rapidly-growing poverty in the suburbs, where poverty will continue to become a pernicious problem. Over the past ten years I've said to myself that the nouveau-riche suburbs of Atlanta are going to be the Golden Ghettoes of the near future. If we're lucky we'll see more areas like the international sections of Buford Highway in Chamblee: alive with diversity (some of the best eating in the city is here), but clearly starved of critical infrastructure (this should be the most pedestrian-friendly area in the city, but it's a six-lane highway lined with apartments).

According to the new Brookings Institute report, suburban areas in the U.S. grew at a rate of 25% between 2000 and 2008, this is five times faster than the rate in primary cities. By 2008, one-third of the nation's poor lived in the suburbs.

We have to keep in mind that this is data as of 2008, we're still awaiting official unemployment data for 2009. I've written a bit about poverty in the U.S. here (a central concern for me).

Below I am embedding a video featuring David Shipler. I wanted to link to a Nightline episode (On the Edge: America's Working Poor, 2004) but I can't find a link. Their report was based on Shipler's work for the New York Times so it's like going to the source in some ways.

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