Aug 18, 2014
Following on the thoughts I shared in my post of yesterday, I want to highlight this Brookings Institution article of today:
“Ferguson, Mo. Emblematic of Growing Suburban Poverty”
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“But Ferguson has also been home to dramatic economic changes in recent years. The city’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to over 13 percent in 2010-12. For those residents who were employed, inflation-adjusted average earnings fell by one-third. The number of households using federal Housing Choice Vouchers climbed from roughly 300 in 2000 to more than 800 by the end of the decade. Amid these changes, poverty skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2010-2012, Ferguson’s poor population doubled. By the end of that period, roughly one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), and 44 percent fell below twice that level.”
And, as I argued yesterday, Ferguson is just an example of widespread increases in poverty:
“Within the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, the number of suburban neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line more than doubled between 2000 and 2008-2012. Almost every major metro area saw suburban poverty not only grow during the 2000s but also become more concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods. By 2008-2012, 38 percent of poor residents in the suburbs lived in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. For poor black residents in those communities, the figure was 53 percent.
And, lest one think this phenomenon occurs only in suburbs, there are numerous studies of growing urban poverty and inequality. See my previous posts regarding San Francisco.
Poverty is one of the elements making up the reality for those in the lower income classes in the US and the world, along with homelessness, inadequate housing, health care, educational opportunity, safety, and a number of other challenges.
We won’t know exactly what happened between Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson until the investigation and/or the trial are completed, and most likely some will not be convinced then. But we do know one thing for sure, no investigation or trial necessary: Poverty and inequality have risen dramatically across the last 30 years. There can be little doubt that this is a contributing factor to incidents such as we see today in Ferguson, MO.