The concentration of poverty in the U.S. has been increasing over the past decade. Between 2000 and the period between 2005 and 2009, the population of America’s poorest neighborhoods have increased by one-third, according to the Brookings Institute. 24/7 Wall St. has identified the eleven cities with the highest concentration of poverty and looked at factors that could be impacting this trend.
It is not surprising that most of the regions with the highest concentration of poverty also have the highest poverty rates in the country. For example, in McAllen, Tex., 35.7% of the population lives below the poverty line. This is the highest poverty rate in the country. There are exceptions, however. In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., just 9.8% of the population is poor. The reason Poughkeepsie makes the list is that a full 27% of poor people in the region live in the same three poor neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, for regions with a high concentration of poverty, conditions are getting even worse. According to the Brookings report, all but three of the cities have seen substantial increases in poverty concentration. Since 2000, the Toledo, Ohio, region saw an increase of 15.3%, the largest rise in poverty concentration in the country. Now, 23.5% of the region’s poor live in neighborhoods characterized by extreme poverty.
Many of the regions with a high concentration of poverty also have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Fresno, Calif., has an unemployment rate of 14.9%. However, in others, unemployment is actually below the national average. Jackson, Miss., has the sixth-highest poverty rate in the country among large metropolitan areas, but an unemployment rate of just 8.6%. This is lower than the national average of 9.1%.
In order to identify the 11 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest concentration of poverty, 24/7 Wall St. used data compiled by the Brookings Institute in a paper titled “The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty: Metropolitan Trends in the 2000s.” From this report, we looked at the cities with the highest concentration of poverty. We also included the number of people living below the poverty line, the number of poor neighborhoods, termed poverty tracts, and the total population in the regions, all of which the Brookings Institute compiled from U.S. Census data. Median household income values from the 2010 American Community Survey, and unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were also included.