New Report: Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008

Posted by on February 01, 2010

Recession increases poverty in area suburbs

Poverty increased nearly 1 percent in Philadelphia’s suburbs between 2000 and 2008, partly because of two recessions, according to a report issued by The Brookings Institution.

The study showed that the rate of poverty as measured by the federal poverty guidelines in Philadelphia suburbs reached 7.4 percent.  The city’s rate of 24.1 percent represented an increase of 1.2 percent since 2000.

The poverty guidelines say that a family of four is considered living in poverty if its annual income is under $21,834.  The 2009 Pennsylvania Self Sufficiency Standard, developed by PathwaysPA, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development, the University of Washington, United Way and other groups, estimates that the real cost of financial self-reliance in Philadelphia is about two-and-a-half times the federal number.

In addition to Philadelphia’s near suburbs (Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County), the study also included New Castle County in Delaware; Cecil County in Maryland; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem Counties in South Jersey.

Another indication of harder times in the suburbs is measured by increased numbers of residents receiving food stamps benefits.  Between December 2008 and December 2009, for example, the percentage change in food stamp participants went up in every Philadelphia suburb in Pennsylvania, according to the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.  In Montgomery County, the increase was 33 percent; in Delaware County, 23 percent; in Bucks County, 32 percent; and in Chester County, 28 percent. Philadelphia saw a 14 percent increase in food stamp participants during the same period.

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