By John Besl
Poverty in the United States has historically been perceived as mostly an urban phenomenon, while acknowledging some widespread pockets of rural poverty. In the popular imagination, we rarely associate poverty with the suburbs, but a recent report from the Brookings Institution goes a long way toward dispelling this myth. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings issued a report titled “The Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008.” Authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Emily Garr made an in-depth analysis of the location of poverty across the United States, with particular attention on the nation’s 95 largest metro areas. The authors used a classification scheme that divided the nation into four geographic categories, or community types, including primary cities, suburbs, small metropolitan areas, and non-metropolitan areas. Their major finding: by 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.