Study shows poverty has doubled in Richmond’s suburbs

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Poverty is on the rise in the Richmond area. According to a new study, the number of impoverished people jumped by 75 percent from 2000 to 2014.

The biggest change, however, wasn’t in the city. It was the suburban areas and counties around Richmond that saw the most significant increase in poverty. A new study by the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg illustrates the problem.

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United Way President & CEO James Taylor.

“The counties of Hanover, Henrico and Chesterfield actually had much more rapid growth in terms of the number of people in poverty,” United Way President & CEO James Taylor told 8News. “Right now, more people live in poverty in those three counties than do in the cities of Richmond, Petersburg and Colonial Heights combined.”

According to the study, poverty in those three counties has nearly doubled since the year 2000, with more than 68,000 people struggling to make ends meet in the suburbs compared to about 32,000 people in the city.

One theory on the disparity is that more people with means are moving into Richmond while some of the poor are moving out. The study also suggests that the economy and its recovery has been hit or miss for people living in the burbs.

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“So we’ve got to look at how do we deal with the fact that transportation is a challenge for folks that are living a little further out?” Taylor said. “How do we deal with getting services to people most in need? Most significantly, there’s an opportunity for us to look at this as a regional issue.”

The United Way survey also found some encouraging trends in our community over the past 14 years. They report that unemployment has dropped by more than 4 percent, teenage pregnancy rates are down and more students are getting their diplomas. They say nearly 90 percent of students are now graduating from high school.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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