ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. | About half of the Chicago area's poor residents live in the suburbs, a figure that's been steadily increasing over the past three decades, according to a new report released Thursday.
The data from the Heartland Alliance was based on 2011 U.S. Census data, which showed there were about 630,000 people living in poverty in the suburbs. That's nearly double the number of impoverished residents who lived in the suburbs in 1990. The remaining half live in the city itself.
The report looked at Chicago and compared it to DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, as well as the suburban parts of Cook County.
"We were pretty shocked that it balanced out to 50-50," research associate Jennifer Clary told The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald. "It definitely flies in the face of the image of affluence in the suburbs."
In 1990, about 34 percent the area's poor residents lived in the suburbs, while the remaining 66 percent were Chicago residents.
The federal government defines the poor as someone who earns less than $11,484 a year, or a family of four that earns $23,021 a year.
Authorities say the data shows a trend that's also being seen nationally as poor residents become less concentrated in cities. Across the country, about 1 in 3 poor people live in the suburbs.