Poverty growing faster in Nashville than many other cities

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 4:08pm
Staff reports

There has been a significant increase in the number of Nashvillians living in poverty over the past decade, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.

From 2000 to 2008, some 32,000 people fell below the poverty line — $21,834 for a family of four — within the city limits.

The surge in poverty here far surpasses the national average, according to the report. The more than five million people who drifted into poverty across the country between 2000 and 2008 represented a 0.8 percent national increase, while Nashville proper saw a 4.2 percent bump.

As well, Brookings suggests given the current workforce trend — Nashville’s unemployment rate is hovering just below 9 percent — the city may find, once data can be analyzed, that its poverty rate advanced another 2.1 percent in 2009.

But those constitute the most extreme cases. Roughly one-third of the city’s population is considered low-income, meaning they fall below 200 percent of the poverty line. That is slightly higher than the nation’s average.

The good news for Nashville is that its suburbs are not following an emerging national trend toward poverty. The number of poor increased in the suburban areas by 22,000 over the same period, but the suburbs came in slightly below the national average in terms of overall expansion of poverty. Also, the number of working poor is considerably smaller in the suburbs.

Suburban poverty in large American cities grew five times faster than in urban areas during the period covered in the report. Those areas are also growing quicker than urban areas.

“The notion of poverty as primarily an ‘urban’ problem is officially outdated,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior research analyst at Brookings and author of the report, in a companion interview released Wednesday. “About one-third of all poor people in the United States live in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, more than live in big cities, smaller metro areas, or non-metropolitan communities.” 

The report compiled data from the nation's 95 largest metro areas. 

3 Comments on this post:

By: bfra on 1/21/10 at 12:23

Surely no one expects our scumbag politicians to concern themselves with this issue. They are too busy squeezing the legal taxpayers for every penny to build their monuments. They can't be bothered with such trivials as keeping up necessities or using common logic. And for all you blockheads that think only tourist money will be used, you are dumber than a blockhead!

By: Shuzilla on 1/21/10 at 1:14

Very scary for Nashville-Davidson, if this is only about Nashville proper. We've seen huge growth in surrounding counties over the past decades, mostly of families whose income generally is higher than Nashville households.

With a relative stagnation in poulation, and the reports emphasis on suburban poverty, it's assured that Nashville's impoverished areas are growing into what were middle-class neighborhoods.

As the 10-county MSA grows, the lions share of that growth will be outside of Nashville but the proportionate growth in poverty will occur disproportionately within Davidson County and largely in her suburbs. That will hasten the migration of the middle class out to surrounding counties, lowering our tax base.

By: WickedTribe on 1/22/10 at 7:11

This doesn't surprise me at all. I feel poor living in Nashville now, although I haven't lost any income. The ludicrous real estate prices (Did you see that article stating that we're the 10th most overpriced city in the country?) , high taxes, and insanely expensive services (Especially, look at how much the Music City Star costs, especially compared to mass transit in other cities, including similar population cities like Pittsburgh).

But if the incomes are going down on top of prices going up, this surprises me (I have no idea why incomes would be going down) and is very bad news.

Very scary for Nashville, although I haven't seen anything that makes me think the suburbs are better off. Williamson county has more meth lab busts than any other county in the state, and people aren't cooking meth in Coke bottles if they have a real job.