In his inaugural address, US president Donald Trump listed out the problems he saw in a declining America. At the top of his list: “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities.” It was not the first time Trump had spoken of urban poverty. “Our inner cities are a disaster,” Trump said in the third presidential debate of 2016. “You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs.”In addition to their racist undertones, Trump’s statements promote a dangerous misrepresentation of the geography of poverty in the United States.
Over the last several decades, US poverty has increasingly spread to the suburbs. In 1990, the majority of poverty in the 100 largest US metro areas was found in urban areas. But recent research by the political scientist Scott Allard at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. shows that, in absolute numbers, this no longer holds true. The University of Washington professor estimates that there are 17 million people living in poverty in the suburbs of the US’s big cities—4 million more than in cities themselves.
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