The guise of the suburban American Dream has ended, per Brookings Institute analysis of 2010 Census data. Rolled up like a flag and put away until another time.
15.4 million American suburban residents are living below the poverty line, up 11.5% from last year and 53% from 2000. Now, one-third of the nation’s poor reside in the suburbs.
This statistic contradicts the widespread notion that most of America’s poverty exists in rural and inner-city areas. Cities are still home to 12.7 million of the nation’s poor, up 5% from last year. The nation’s remaining 18 million poor are divided between living in smaller metro areas and rural communities.
Although the rise of overall poverty is driven by the Lesser Depression joblessness, it is becoming an increasingly suburban issue.
Before 2000, 10 million suburbanites were already living in poverty. With the onset of the Lesser Depression, the number of low-wage, low skilled construction, retail and manufacturing jobs greatly diminished. The result: record numbers of uneducated living within suburban communities – the poor.
As personal incomes decreased and the housing market collapsed, even more suburban residents were pushed into poverty. Joined by a large influx of immigrants, the suburban poor are now exceedingly diverse, 17% being foreign born. No matter their national origin, the poverty line was set at $22,314 for a family of four in 2010.
Due to the expectations formed by an image of affluence, suburban areas are not equipped with the infrastructure needed to service the growing number of now poorer residents, especially the ballooning number of requests for food and housing. While many suburban families in poverty have nowhere to turn for assistance, other middle-class suburban residents are only beginning to recognize that poverty has hit home.
first tuesday take: This Lesser Depression imposing lower standards of living overall is finding society’s elite relocated to gentrified cities. In turn, the suburban neighborhoods they have occupied for 20 odd years are now being occupied by lower-income tenants. Suburbia is fast becoming a hideaway for the financially impaired.
The cost of schooling, as well as other public and social services, is growing more problematic as suburbia becomes increasingly populated with lower-income occupants and takes in less revenue in property taxes. [For more information on long-term costs associated with suburban living, see July 2011 first tuesday article, The fate of suburbia.]
The unsustainable nature of the past suburban cultural habitat, primarily dependent upon automobiles and oil, is presently contributing to suburbia’s decline with no light-energy help in sight. More public transportation, a good thing, is the answer. Once jobs return to the market, long commutes will no longer be tolerated, and better educated suburbanites will relocate closer to centers of professional employment.
All aboard, except for the uneducated and unskilled in our midst.
Re: “Poverty pervades the suburbs” from CNN Money