In many ways, the public face of poverty hasn't changed much over the last 20-30 years. Say the words "poor people," and our minds easily flash to scenes of urban 'hoods and rural shacks. But this week MSNBC/Newsweek covers a trend we reported on last December -- the rise of poverty in the suburbs:
Once prized as a leafy haven from the social ills of urban life, the suburbs are now grappling with a new outbreak of an old problem: poverty. Currently, 38 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defines as an annual income of $20,000 or less for a family of four.
But for the first time in history, more of America's poor are living in the suburbs than the cities-1.2 million more, according to a 2005 survey. "The suburbs have reached a tipping point," says Brookings Institution analyst Alan Berube, who compiled the data.
Not all suburbs are feeling the pain equally -- as the story notes, suburban poverty is concentrated in certain regions:
That's not to say that all suburbs are struggling. In areas such as New York and Los Angeles where the regional economies are booming, the surrounding suburbs are doing just fine. It's another story altogether in the South and Midwest.
One issue the story doesn't address: how will growing poverty in Southern suburbs -- once Republican strongholds -- affect political dynamics in these areas?