The number of people living in poverty in the suburbs of Boston rose sharply during the last decade, even as inner-city poverty fell slightly, a new report says.

The number of people living in poverty in the suburbs of Boston rose sharply during the last decade, even as inner-city poverty fell slightly, a new report says.


The report, published Wednesday by the nonprofit Brookings Institution, states that the ranks of suburban poor outside Boston increased by 39,000 people, to 281,467, in the period from 2000 through 2008.


At the same time, suburban poverty across the county rose by 25 percent – nearly five times the growth rate in cities. Still, city dwellers remain twice as likely to live in poverty as suburbanites.


The 2008 poverty rate in Boston and Cambridge, for example, was 18 percent, compared with 7.6 percent in the surrounding suburbs, according to the report.


The poverty level is $21,834 for a family of four.


The report defines Boston’s suburbs as including the following counties: Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, parts of Suffolk, and, in New Hampshire, parts of Rockingham and Strafford counties.


The report does not encompass much of the impact of the current recession.


The institute found that one-third of America’s poor in 2008 lived in large suburban towns, making the suburbs the “largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.”


“These trends are likely to continue in the wake of the latest downturn,” the institute reported.


Elizabeth Kneebone, a Brookings senior research analyst and co-author of the report, said the changing landscape of American poverty “underscores the need for policies that foster balanced growth across metropolitan regions and labor markets, and that link up affordable housing, transit, work force, and economic development strategies to help connect low-income residents to job opportunities.”


The Patriot Ledger