2015 May

Suburban Poverty in the Twin Cities Area

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Alan Berube

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with several groups of stakeholders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) area to discuss local trends in, and responses to, suburbanizing poverty in the region.

Patterns of poverty in the Twin Cities region, it turns out, are pretty typical of those in large metro areas nationwide. Today, nearly 60 percent of people living below the poverty line in the MSP area live outside the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Between 2000 and 2013, their numbers rose a staggering 128 percent, compared to 37 percent in the two cities combined. Residents of the cities are still nearly twice as likely to be poor as their suburban counterparts, but that difference has narrowed in recent years.

In speaking with a diverse set of audiences in the region, I found that a few themes helped inform how leaders are approaching efforts to connect people to economic opportunity.

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Best Starts for Kids: An Ounce of Prevention in King County, Washington

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Natalie Holmes and Alan Berube

We recently visited King County, Wash., the county in which Seattle sits. On many counts, the region is thriving. But while the city of Seattle grows jobs and incomes, suburban communities to its immediate south continue to grapple with elevated poverty and concentrated disadvantage. The gap between the region’s rich and poor continues to widen, which recent research suggests could hinder the economic mobility of low-income children and families.

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Suburban Poverty in the US, in the UK

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Alan Berube

I had the chance to travel to London and Birmingham last week to speak to local audiences about the suburbanization of poverty in the United States. I was hosted by colleagues at the Smith Institute, who have studied this similar phenomenon in major English and Welsh regions.

The Smith Institute’s research shows that, as in the United States, most low-income people in England and Wales (57 percent) live in suburban areas. Poverty is defined differently in the UK, as are “suburbs,” (see the slides below) but some of the challenges facing poor individuals in UK suburbs–more limited access to transit, services, and jobs–mirror those facing their counterparts in America.

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Resources

Learn about suburban poverty in your community, how innovators around the country are addressing it, and what you can do locally and nationally to take action.