The Geography of U.S. Poverty and its Implications

Alan Berube
Alan Berube Interim Vice President and Director - Brookings Metro

February 13, 2007

Mr. Chairman and other members of the Committee, thank you for the invitation to testify today on the changing geography of poverty in the United States and its implications for economic mobility and well-being, the subject of recent research we have conducted at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

In this testimony, I will make three points regarding poverty, geography, and mobility in the United States.

A significant fraction of poor families in America live in environments of extreme, concentrated poverty.

At the same time, the locus of U.S. poor and low-income populations is shifting toward the suburbs, along with Americans in general.

Each geographic setting provides both challenges and opportunities for promoting the economic mobility of low-income families, with attendant implications for public policy.