Poverty has become widespread across the United States in recent years. As it turns out, the concentration of poverty has also been increasing.
A new study by the Cleveland Fed shows that
Over the course of the last decade, the poverty rate in the United States rose from 11.3 percent to 15.0 percent. From a geographic perspective, the increase has been widespread, as 49 out of the 50 states have seen a rise in poverty rates from 1999 to 2011. Clearly, this rise in poverty is linked closely to economic conditions, with many families and individuals seeing declining incomes during the Great Recession. The manufacturing states of the Midwest saw particularly sharp increases in poverty rates over this time period. . .
While poverty tended to increase in all neighborhoods, this increase was most rapid in neighborhoods that already had a large share of poor residents. This increase in the concentration of poverty is a distinct cause for concern because the disadvantages to an individual from being poor are thought to be either muted or amplified depending on the poverty in their neighborhood. Neighborhoods with many poor residents typically have less access to job opportunities, face higher crime rates, and incur a range of other social problems.
These recent trends represent a dramatic reversal of what was happening the 1990s, when both the level and concentration of poverty were falling.
And things are probably even worse than the current data reveal:
It is important to note that the full effects of the Great Recession are likely not fully reflected in our data, as the end period of the data in our sample is averaged over the years 2006 through 2010. We expect that as the sample window shifts forward, estimates of neighborhood poverty rates will rise, and it is possible that the concentration of poverty will continue to rise.
Over the course of the Second Great Depression, the United States has become a country of widespread and increasingly concentrated poverty.