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Experts: Atlanta's A Leader For Suburban Poverty Growth

A new book lends credence to the idea that America's suburban utopias are eroding, and it points to Atlanta as a prime example. Atlanta ranked fourth — slotted between Colorado Springs (No. 3) and Grand Rapids, Mich. — on a list of cities that saw substantial growth in suburban poverty between 2000 and 2010. Brookings researcher Elizabeth Kneebone, who co-wrote Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, attributes the rise to a variety of factors, including increased diversity in America's suburban populations and the gentrification of cities, notes the Huffington Post. Honing in the focus, Atlanta magazine provides a thoughtful, local perspective. For decades, more people have called suburban Atlanta home than the city itself — makes sense, because there's way more people out there — but by 2010, 87 percent of the region's poor people lived in the 'burbs. The number of poor in the city has held steady.

The magazine boils the issue down to the common root of Atlanta ills — transit. "On average, a poor person in the suburbs can only reach 18 percent of Atlanta's jobs," the report reads. "What's worse, those commutes can take up to ninety minutes each way." Two more interesting stats culled form the book: In metro Atlanta, two-thirds of jobs are located within a ten-mile radius of downtown; and in the last five years, the suburbs have seen a dramatic 25 percent increase in the number of "poor" students.

Other studies have shown that, in Atlanta, the number of 25-to 34-year olds with four-year college degrees or higher swelled by 61 percent between 2000 and 2009. But the population boost enjoyed by other cities didn't materialized here. Why?

The unimpressive population growth might not be because people weren't moving to Atlanta, but because some people, blindsided by an economic collapse, moved out. The demolition of public housing — and high-vacancy rates in struggling neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures and mortgage fraud — is thought to have played a significant role.
· Atlanta No. 4 for suburban poverty growth [Atlanta magazine]
· Developer: "Millennials Have Spoken ... And They Prefer Urban!" [Curbed Atlanta]