Poverty Rising in D.C. Suburbs

Struggling economy blamed for rise in poverty level

By Eun Yang
|  Thursday, Jan 21, 2010  |  Updated 10:45 AM EDT
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Poverty Rising in D.C. Suburbs

The poor are staying poor. But now they're living in the suburbs. A report released today by the Brookings Institution shows that the number of people living in poverty is rising, and nearly half of the increase is happening in the suburbs of the nation's biggest metropolitan areas. The report points to two recessions over the last decade as a cause.

The number of poor in the suburbs grew by 25 percent from 2000 to 2008. That's five times the growth rate in major cities.

By 2008, 2.5 million more people living in poverty in the suburbs than in 2000, with 13.2 percent of Americans living below poverty level. An annual income of $21,834 for a family of four is considered poverty level.

In the District, Arlington and Alexandria, the poverty rate acutally dropped 2.5 percent to 13.3  percent from 2000 to 2008. But poverty in the suburbs skyrocketed, from .3 percent to 5.8 percent.

The reports says based on recent unemployment rates throughout last year, the Washington Metropolitan area may experience an increase in poverty rate of about 1.4 percent.

The Brookings Institution also released a report last summer that said D.C. is among the 75 biggest U.S. metro areas that saw suburban unemployment grow at a faster rate than unemployment in the cities.

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