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.
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,
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.