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According to a new report, poverty in the areas outside of Atlanta’s city limits is increasing much faster than it is inside. In fact, the metro area is seeing what’s been called a dramatic growth of poverty in the suburbs.

The Atlanta Regional Commission’s upcoming “Regional Snapshot” shows that among the 20 most populous metro areas in the county, Atlanta had the highest percentage increase in suburban poverty.

“In Atlanta, the poor population in the city held stead between 2000 and 2010 while the poor population in the suburbs grew by 122 percent — more than doubling over the course of the decade,” Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution told Saporta Report.

In the nation’s 95 biggest metro areas, the poor population in the suburbs grew by 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the poor population in cities grew by 23 percent, Kneebone added.

The increase in suburban poverty has reflected the larger problem of declining wages and per capita income in the United States.

Kneebone said that in 2000, the country had 81 million people living at or near the poverty line. In 2010, that number had grown to 104 million people.

Yet the growth of poverty in metro Atlanta’s suburbs is outpacing that in other areas.

Between 2000 and 2010, poverty increased 5.9 percent in the suburbs compared to 1.7 percent in the city. Although suburban poverty rates are still lower than inside the urban core, “poverty rates rose at three times the rate in the first-ring suburbs when compared to the urban core,” according to the Regional Snapshot.

In addition to a lack of transportation options, there are big gaps in social services available in suburban communities. This is forcing Local and state governments, already strapped for resources, to develop new programs to serve their growing poor populations outside of city centers.

“Poverty in cities has not gone away,” Kneebone said, “but now suburbs are struggling alongside them.”


(Photo: Map showing where the largest increases in poverty occurred in the Atlanta region. Areas right outside of the I-285 perimeter in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett had among the largest poverty rate increases since 2000. Cities in exurban counties, like Cartersville, Gainesville, Winder, Monroe, had among the largest increases in poverty as well. Source: Atlanta Regional Commission’s Neighborhood Nexus)

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