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Suburbs Seeing More Poverty [AUDIO]

New Jersey’s residential neighborhoods have seen a spike in folks living below the poverty level. The “suburban poor” is not only a result of lower-income families moving in, but existing residents falling victim to less-than-stellar economic conditions.

suburban NJ home
Flickr User Wootang01

Joseph Seneca, an economist with Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the increase in suburban poverty has been apparent across the country and right here in the Garden State. Urban spots like Newark and Jersey City have been gradually giving up their share of the impoverished to towns like New Brunswick and Clifton.

He cited the post-2000 recessions, particularly the most recent one, as a primary reason for the trend.

“No area was immune,” Seneca said. “You just had a lot of people losing jobs.”

Meanwhile, he said, folks living the suburban lifestyle were essentially trapped because selling a home was nearly impossible.

The recovery has been a tepid one at best, and many people regaining jobs are doing so at lower income levels.

The jump in suburban poverty can also be attributed to lower-income families making their move out of the city and into the next ring of town, hoping to pick up solid employment.

Seneca said “new immigrants” into suburban communities were managing to grab lower-wage jobs in the popular sectors of retail and food service, which have been easier to come by in the suburbs in recent years.

The trend also shines a positive light on some of New Jersey’s urban areas, which have spent years attempting to become more attractive and, in the end, pricier. Seneca said some areas, especially along the Hudson waterfront, became too costly for lower-income earners, and they were forced to move elsewhere.

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