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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 31, 2012 at 10:15 AM

The new segregation is economic

A new study by the Manhattan Institute finds that all-white enclaves are “effectively extinct.” The New York Times found a bevy of experts to second the motion, albeit with some caveats. Yet this is highly misleading.

Consider Columbia, S.C. The city is 52 percent white and 42 percent black, with a median household income of $38,272. Yet the city is highly segregated, with whites living in older gentrified neighborhoods of grand old houses and some new subdivisions, and blacks living in poor areas. Meanwhile, once-rural Lexington County next door has seen a huge influx of affluent whites. It’s 79 percent white and 14 percent black with a median household income of $52,205.

Dayton, Ohio, once named one of America’s most segregated cities, is another example. The west side remains nearly all black. White flight has shrunk the city while once-rural counties nearby have ballooned with mostly white, better-off populations. Phoenix’s once all-white, middle-class automobile suburb of Maryvale is now mostly poor and Hispanic. New suburban Gilbert is pretty close to an all-white enclave. Sprawl has been a great enabler of the new segregation, which is not only heavily determined by race but especially by economic means. Poverty has spread to older suburbia, engulfing all ethnic groups caught in its trap.

The ghetto as depicted in popular culture may be fading and de jure segregation is rare. But poverty still congregates and is rising. Not surprisingly, unemployment is higher in these Census tracts, too. Lacking decent transit, it’s more difficult for residents to reach work. More importantly, changes in the economy have eliminated many of the jobs that once provided upward mobility. The result is that America is one of the most unequal societies among advanced nations. The new ghetto is lack of economic mobility.

And Don’t Miss: Farmers making $100 billion don’t need subsidies to grow || Bloomberg

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Why is Jon Corzine

Not in lockup, waiting trial?

It’s all who you know

Comments | More in Demographics, Income/living standards, Inequality, Poverty

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