Overview of Community Characteristics in Areas With Concentrated Poverty. High poverty metropolitan ZCTAs are most likely to be majority black or Hispanic.


Areas of poverty concentration tend to be very racially segregated with over three- quarters of residents in areas with majority minority populations belonging to the racial group that makes up the largest share of the population. Just over 46 percent of concentrated metropolitan poor areas are majority black; 32 percent are majority Hispanic, and nearly 8 percent are majority white. In only 14 percent of the concentrated poverty areas in metropolitan areas is there no single racial or ethnic group that constitutes a majority of area residents.

Figure 2: Predominant Racial Group of Metro ZCTAs
Figure 2: Predominant Racial Group of Metro ZCTAs

One out of every five people who live in metropolitan areas of concentrated poverty was born outside of the United States. Most of these 2.4 million individuals live in the West and South regions of the country. Nationally, roughly 13 percent of the population and 16 percent of the poverty population is foreign born.

In the average metropolitan area of concentrated poverty, the foreign-born share of the population is about 15.5 percent, roughly proportionate to the poverty rate for foreign-born individuals; so, the foreign-born poor are not disproportionately likely to live in areas of concentrated poverty when they experience poverty.4 Immigrants are only slightly more overrepresented in the average high poverty area compared to the national level. But, this varies widely across regions. Compared to other regions, the average share of foreign-born individuals in a high poverty ZCTA is highest in the Western region of the U.S. (34.7%). In the Midwest, the average foreign born share of a high poverty ZCTA is only 7 percent.

4 Three-quarters of foreign-born individuals who live in metropolitan areas of concentrated poverty are not U.S. citizens. These individuals are most prevalent in the Western concentrated poverty ZCTAs. The non-citizen poor are not disproportionally likely to live in concentrated poverty when they experience poverty. The distribution of these individuals is similar to that of all foreign-born individuals living in areas of concentrated poverty.

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