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Poverty Concentrating in Already High-Poverty Neighborhoods

A pair of reports analyzing U.S. Census Bureau poverty data from the last two decades show that high-poverty neighborhoods have become further impoverished.
June 3, 2020, 8am PDT | Lee Flannery
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Vacant Properties
Karen Bahr

Two reports published by the Economic Innovation Group in May cover U.S. Census Bureau poverty data between 1980 and 2018. The reports found that since 1980, the number of neighborhoods below the poverty line has roughly doubled. Areas marked as low-income neighborhoods in the '80s became poorer by 2018, for the most part. 

"Just as the number of poor metro neighborhoods has doubled, so has the number of people living in them — 24 million people were living in these high-poverty communities in 2018, according to the research," writes Marie Patino in coverage of the new reports. The research shows that most people living in poverty live in high-poverty areas. 

Patino recounts that while these upsetting trends are clear, the authors spent little time in the report speaking to what can be done to reverse the trend. It remains the case that low-income areas tend to be more crowded, and their residents at even higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. "Those factors also make low-income areas in the U.S. an easy target for epidemics," says Patino.

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Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 in CityLab
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