Saturday, July 20, 2013

Suburban Poverty (Part 2): Urban Institute Mapping Tool

Because of a series of economic downturns over the past decade, many folks lost their jobs and have been unable to find new employment or have had to settle for minimum-wage work. People who were once considered middle class (and many live in the suburbs), have fallen below or close to the poverty line.

Today, one out of four jobs in the country doesn’t pay enough to lift a family of four above the poverty line. When jobs don’t pay enough to lift families above the poverty line, we end up with lots of people known as “the working poor.” After the shocks in the 2000s, starting with the bursting of the stock bubble early in the decade and continuing with the housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis, we need to ask ourselves whether the course we’re on is sustainable. Read more from the Bread for the World Institute.

But the recent economic downturns only worsened a trend that had already been occurring over the past three decades. The changing demographic of poverty is occurring across the nation. Chicago magazine discusses the growth of suburban poverty in America's third largest metropolitan area, And The Atlantic magazine recently reported on the overall trend, using maps provided by The Urban Institute.

Poverty in the United States doesn't look like it did just a few decades ago. In many metro areas, it touches more people today than in 1980. The demographics have changed too, with new and expanding communities of the Hispanic poor in cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. And the geography has shifted – as we've previously written...poverty now stretches well into the suburbs.

To get a better picture of what all these changes look like over time, the Urban Institute recently created a helpful new mapping tool that tracks fine-grained Census data on poverty for every metropolitan area of the country, spanning the years from 1980-2010. The patterns vary by city Just about everywhere, however, poverty appears to be spreading.

The Urban Institute's maps represent an important tool for policymakers to examine and respond to the changing demographics of poverty in metropolitan areas across the United States.  "For metro regions to systematically reduce poverty and expand opportunity, local civic and political leaders, advocates, and practitioners should start by sitting down together to understand the evolving realities of poverty, race, and place in their communities. We hope our maps help catalyze these conversations," said the Urban Institutue

Below are demographic maps from the Urban Institute comparing poverty in Houston in 1980 and 2010. See the mapping tool created by The Urban Institute.

Poverty in Houston 1980
Poverty in Houston 2010

Part 1: Book Documents Suburban Poverty Since 1980
Next: Poverty in Albuquerque's Suburbs?

No comments: