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Center for Community Planning and Development


Over the past thirty years, increasing numbers of low-income people live in suburbs in the United States, with an increased proportion of racial and ethnic minorities among them (Covington, Freeman, & Stoll, 2011; Frey, 2011; Howell & Timberlake, 2014; Puentes & Warren, 2006). In urban areas, increases in poverty rates have been marked by increases in racial and ethnic segregation among people living in poverty (Logan & Stults, 2010; Massey, 1990; Orfield & Luce, 2012). What is less clear from the research on suburban poverty is how much racial segregation exists. For example, some research indicates that there is more segregation among black people in the suburbs than in urban areas (Darden & Kamel, 2002) whereas other research finds that black people in the suburbs are less likely to live in segregated communities than black people in urban areas (Alba, Logan, & Stults, 2000).

This paper presents findings from a new set analyses, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, to first examine the distribution of poverty across different kinds of suburban communities and then the degree of racial and ethnic segregation within and across different kinds of suburban communities. The goal of the analyses is to better understand how policy solutions might best address racial and economic inequality in the suburbs.