Over 50% of Food Stamp Recipients Live in the Suburbs

Meet the new geography of poverty
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Reuters

The housing bust didn't just sink the world economy. It sunk the suburbs too. 

Now, you probably think of white picket fences, big backyards, and perhaps a whiff of existential despair when you think about the suburbs. But you should think of economic despair instead. As Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution points out, suburbanites made up almost 50 percent of food stamp recipients back in 2007 -- and 55 percent in 2011.

This is actually worse than it sounds. Their share of food stamps use only went up 5 percentage points, but suburban households' total food stamp use doubled between 2007 and 2011. By comparison, total food stamp use went up by 69 percent for city households.

The Great Recession accelerated the rise of a new geography of poverty. Homes that were supposed to be lead to the American Dream lead to financial ruin instead. And, unfortunately, this isn't going away anytime soon -- not if the recovery continues to only be one for the top 1 percent.

Hows' that for suburban despair.

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Matthew O'Brien

Matthew O'Brien is a former senior associate editor at The Atlantic, covering business and economics.

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