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Rising Suburban Poverty Is a Bipartisan Problem

“The numbers really underscore how cross-cutting an issue poverty is—it’s not just a red or a blue issue or an inner-city or suburban issue.”
Voters head to the polls outside Cleveland, Ohio.
Voters head to the polls outside Cleveland, Ohio. Aaron Josefczyk/REUTERS

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign famously made much ado about “inner cities”—those hellish parts of U.S. metros where “the blacks” live. As my colleague Brentin Mock recently pointed out, the phrase is decades-old innuendo for black crime. Outdated as it may be, there is a nugget of truth that can be extracted from it: Too many cities do have pockets of concentrated poverty—and Democrats as well as Republicans need to take responsibility for that. But the same is increasingly true of American suburbs.

A new analysis by Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, finds that poverty affects every single Congressional district in the U.S.—and suburban ones are not exceptions, but particular concerns. “The numbers really underscore how cross-cutting an issue poverty is—it’s not just a red or a blue issue or an inner-city or suburban issue.” Kneebone says. “Popular perceptions just have not kept up with the shifting and broadening geography of poverty.”