Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium
Workers & Economic Inequality, Poverty

Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium: Changes in the Prevalence, Composition, and Location of High-Poverty Neighborhoods

By Paul Jargowsky

Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium, authored by TCF fellow and CURE director Paul A. Jargowsky, is the first to compare the 2000 census data with the 2007-11 American Community Survey (ACS), revealing the extent to which concentrated poverty has returned to, and in some ways exceeded, the previous peak level in 1990.

[NOTE: Updated figures for the 2008–2012 period are available here.]

Concentrated poverty is defined as census tracts where more than 40 percent of households live below the federal poverty threshold, currently set at approximately $23,000 per year for a family of four.

“In the USA, there are now more census tracts of concentrated poverty than have ever been recorded before, resulting in more than 11 million Americans, or 4 percent of the population, living in severely distressed neighborhoods,” said Jargowsky.

“The increase in concentrated poverty was highest in the Midwest, which experienced a 132 percent increase in the number of people living in high poverty neighborhoods, to 2.7 million; followed by the South, which suffered a 66 percent increase to 4.6 million."

The Century Foundation/CURE report further reveals that the most significant increases in concentrated poverty occurred., not in the major cities, but rather in small to mid-sized metropolitan areas.

About the Author(s)

Paul A. Jargowsky is a fellow with The Century Foundation, professor of public policy and director, Center for Urban Research and Education, at Rutgers University - Camden, and a senior research affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.

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