The challenges of living in poverty are different depending on geography. These divisions reach across state lines and state law. The rural, urban and suburban poor all face different choices and limitations that require different policy solutions.
This interactive map uses a geographic information system (GIS) to visualize and interpret poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It maps data on poverty across the states, poverty in cities and households living in poverty.
Newly released Census Bureau data confirm that, four years into an official economic recovery, the nation’s largest metro areas continued to struggle with stubbornly high poverty levels even amid improving employment numbers.
Runyon Heights, a community in Yonkers, New York, has been populated by middle-class African Americans for nearly a century. Red Lines, Black Spaces(Yale, 2006)—the first history of a black middle-class community—tells the story of Runyon Heights, which sheds light on the process of black suburbanization and the ways in which residential development in the suburbs has been shaped by race and class.
Several recent trends have begun to upset this familiar urban-suburban narrative about poverty and opportunity in metropolitan America. In 1999, large U.S. cities and their suburbs had roughly equal numbers of poor residents, but by 2008 the number of suburban poor exceeded the poor in central cities by 1.5 million.
When the rural poor prioritize issues such as the right to bear arms, and disapprove of welfare despite their economic concerns, they are often dismissed as uneducated and backward by academics and political analysts. In Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t (Minnesota, 2009), Jennifer Sherman offers a much-needed sympathetic understanding of poor rural Americans.
Five areas across the country have been designated as “Promise Zones” by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas.
Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Trago’s 2014 documentary, Rich Hill, focuses on the lives of three young individuals and their families living in Rich Hill, Missouri. Rich Hill is a small town with a population of approximately 1,341, a median income just under $30,000, and a poverty rate of about 27 percent according to the Census Reporter.