Thursday, January 31, 2013

Poverty becoming more concentrated in certain areas, especially rural, a fact little recognized

Not only did poverty increase in the last decade, it became more concentrated. Rural poverty clusters are an increasing problem, but have gone largely unrecognized by society because the public has generally thought of such clusters as being an inner-city problem, geographer Tracey Farrigan and sociologist Timothy Parker of the USDA's Economic Research Service write for the Daily Yonder.

They point to research showing that those living in poverty clusters face more challenges than if they weren't clustered: "Concentrated poverty contributes to poor housing and health conditions, higher crime and school dropout rates, as well as employment dislocations. As a result, economic conditions in very poor areas can create limited opportunities for poor residents that become self-perpetuating."

(USDA map: Red counties were high poverty in 2000 and 2010, orange were only high poverty in 2010, green were only high in 2000, and gray were not high poverty during either period. White regions on the map are metropolitan areas.)
Poor people are clustered in specific neighborhoods, counties and regions, most notably in the Black Belt, Central Appalachia, the Rio Grande region and Indian reservations. The poverty rate in rural counties was 16.5 percent in 2010, up from 14.8 percent in 2000. Twenty-six percent of rural counties were listed as being high poverty -- those with a poverty rate at 20 percent or higher -- in 2010, and 36.1 percent of rural poor lived in those counties during the same period. (Read more)

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