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Poverty In KC No Longer a Central City Issue

May 21, 2013

by Jeff Pinkerton

In a new book, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube discuss the opportunities (access to more jobs, better schools)  and challenges (fewer aid agencies, lack of transit) a family in poverty might face living in a suburb.

The number of people living in poverty has increased 29 percent nationwide between 2000 and 2011. This change is certainly significant, but what is also significant is the location of poverty. We used to think of poverty as a central city issue, and that used to be the case.  But nationwide, more people in poverty now live in suburbs (55 percent) than in the central city (45 percent).

The trend holds in the Kansas City area as well. In their analysis of the Kansas City region, the authors considered all cities outside Kansas City, Mo., to be suburban. But even if we consider both Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., to be the region’s central cities, the majority of the population in poverty (53 percent) lives in the suburbs.

Poverty Table 1

Below is a table showing the change in population in poverty for the largest cities in the Kansas City Metro.

Poverty Table 2A

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