Far beyond individual effort, personal values, or work ethic, the public infrastructure is shaping opportunity for the poor in the deep south.
In the metropolitan areas of the Deep South, government policies and rising real estate prices have pushed the poor out of urban centers and farther from jobs. Low-income people have, in turn, grown more reliant on public transit networks that are among the weakest of quality in the country. When they search for work, they step into a region where pay tends to be low and unemployment tends to be high. The share of residents in deep poverty — with incomes below $10,045 for a parent and two children — in these Deep South metro areas has grown by 24 percent over the past decade, according to Census Bureau data.