“America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries — and its gap with the rest has been widening.” Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the level of inequality of our major cities is comparable to that of some of the poorest countries in the world. Unfortunately the gap continues to grow in some of America’s largest cities. Between 2010 and 2011, the poverty rate in 26 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas increased significantly. While the remaining 74 of the largest cities (including Baltimore) showed no significant increase in poverty during that year, only one showed a decrease in the poverty rate (Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI).
There is a silver lining in Baltimore. Examining the City’s demographic profile from the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance – Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI), it is clear that the city lost about 30,000 residents in the last decade. In addition, the poverty rate decreased by almost 2%, down to 21.3%. In raw numbers however, the picture is brighter. The number of people living in poverty in Baltimore in 2000 was 149,114, whereas the number in 2010 was 132,264: a decrease of 16,850 people living in poverty over 10 years.
While Baltimore retains the high percent of poverty it has had for over a decade, we can celebrate this decrease in this unfortunate statistic. Building wealth among the 132,267 people living in poverty is a critical task to accomplish. Many organizations are working feverishly to provide job training, and other career services to these individuals to ensure that Baltimore is a place for families to build wealth and keep it. To learn more about these organizations, contact the State’s 211 system, or learn more about Associated Black Charities and the Center for Urban Families.