More Bad News About Growing Poverty

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The Brookings Institution this morning released a new report on concentrated poverty in the United States, including the Seattle metropolitan area. 

The bad news—

  • More people are living in poverty—46.2 million—than ever in U. S. history; that's 15% of the U.S. population.
  • The federal poverty line for a family of four is $22,314. Could your family of four successfully cope with that level of family income?
  • There is a growing concentration of poverty in some neighborhoods, with a recent increase in close-in suburban areas.  Still, people living in cities are four times more likely to live in neighborhoods of high concentrated poverty than those in the suburbs. The midwest and southern regions of the U. S. have seen the highest increases in poverty.  Review the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue statistics, which haven't changed much since 2000.
  • A particularly interesting finding of the Brookings study is that the general economic improvement the country experienced in the late 1990s did not reach neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, a direct challenge to the "all boats rise" philosophy we all like to believe.  (Interestingly, this same reality can be seen with crime statistics where citywide rates can decline significantly while, at the same time, micro places across the city can be experiencing crimes surges.)

Unfortunately, the Brookings report confirms what we already know—the middle class and the poor are getting hammered in today's America.  I've written about this previously here. The growing disparities in income and the shockingly high concentrations of wealth in our country are fueling the Occupy protest movement, including here in Seattle.  These issues are very real and need our attention.