A new report out by the Brookings Institution, an independent research group, shows that the number of Americans living in extreme concentrated poverty grew by a third over the past decade, climbing from 9.1 to 10.5 percent since 2000, according to census data.
The jump in extreme concentrated poverty -- defined as areas where at least 40 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line -- wipes away much of the economic gains the poor in this country made during the 1990s. The rising trend, captured through 2009, occurred in about three-quarters of the nation's largest metropolitan regions.
So how does St. Louis figure into all this?
Here in the Lou, the metropolitan region experienced a .7 percent increase in concentrated poverty rate since 2000. More specifically, there are 8,431 more St. Louisans living in poor neighborhoods than there were a decade ago.
The picture in St. Louis, which held its own during the first half of the decade before hitting tougher times, isn't nearly as bad as it is in other Rust Belt cities; indeed, the concentrated poverty rate nearly doubled in Midwestern metropolitan areas since 2000. Detroit, along with three Ohio cities -- Toledo, Youngstown and Dayton -- were among the regions that added the highest percentages of poor people to their already-poor neighborhoods.
According to the report, the suburbs fared far worse than cities proper, experiencing 41 percent rise in extreme poverty as compared with 17 percent, respectively. In the St. Louis region, the growth in concentrated poverty rate was larger in the suburbs (2.3 percent) than it was in the city (.3 percent) over the last decade.
As of December 2009 there were 46.2 million Americans -- more than 15 percent --living in poverty. The federal poverty line is $22,314 for a family of four.