Why Are America’s Suburbs Becoming Poorer?
“Though the reasons for the suburban crisis aren’t necessarily different from the problems facing cities—a lack of good jobs and weakening social programs—an historical cultural and political neglect of the suburban poor means that new frontiers of inequality are exploding invisibly where we least expect them. Urban poverty, measured by Census tract, has grown from about 18 to 20 percent between 1990 and 2014, but risen more drastically in the suburbs, from about 8 percent to over 12 percent of tracts. And in the last decade, a “tipping point” has been reached in which “the number of poor people living in suburban areas has increased more quickly.”
According to a study by political scientist Scott Allard of the University of Washington, the hidden inequality festering in suburbia reveals that, although many associate suburban lifestyles with middle-class comfort, in many depressed regions, “migration to the suburbs isn’t an automatic guarantee of upward mobility.”
Contrary to stereotype, the suburbs aren’t getting poorer just because poor people are moving in. Rather, suburban towns are eroding from within, and are often structurally less resilient than many metropolitan hubs in adapting to economic recession, deindustrialization, and budget cuts.”