While the number of poor people living in suburbs grew by 25 percent from 2000 to 2008, the poverty rate in Colorado Springs’ suburban areas showed no change – but a significant increase inside the city limits, according to findings from the Brookings Institute. During 2008, the suburban poverty rate was 8.4 percent, while the city’s rate was 11.8 percent.
Most of the area’s poor live within the city limits -72.3 percent, compared with 27.7 percent in the suburbs – and the 2008 suburban rate marked no significant change from 2000, according to the study.
Two recessions during the decade increase the number of American poor by 5.2 million, and the Brookings report shows that half that growth occurred in the nation’s suburbs. The poverty rate in the suburbs grew about five times the growth rate in primary cities – making the suburbs home to the largest and fastest growing poor population in the country. There are now 1.5 million more poor people living in suburbs than in primary cities – evidence that the “balance of metropolitan poverty has passed a tipping point.”
“Since the start of this decade, two economic downturns have translated into significant increases in poverty across the country, but not all communities have borne the brunt of these increases equally,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a Brookings senior research analyst. “Suburbs have seen the greatest growth by far in the number of poor residents, and this trend toward ‘suburbanization’ of poverty is only likely to continue in the wake of the most recent recession.”
Nationwide, the poor population increased by 15.4 percent from 2000 to 2008, almost double the overall population growth rate during that period. By 2008, 13.2 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line, $21,834 for a family of four.
While long term trends show the greatest increases occurred in Midwestern metro areas – particularly in auto manufacturing regions, shorter-term trends show that the latest recession increased poverty in Sun Belt metro areas hit hardest by the collapse of the housing market.
To see the full report, go to www.brookings.edu.