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Employment

Report: Poverty Has Suburbanized

The suburbs are now home to a greater share of America's poor than inner cities, according to a report released January 20 by the Brookings Institution.

Suburban poverty has been increasing at a faster rate than poverty in inner cities in recent years partly because the economic downturn has hit all segments of society and more people live in the suburbs.  Nationally, midwestern cities and suburbs have been hardest hit, particularly areas that are heavily dependant upon auto manufacturing.

According to the report:

In 2000, the greatest share of the poor lived in the primary cities of the country’s largest metro areas. These cities were home to almost 400,000 more poor than their suburbs, and the balance of the poor population was more likely to live in non-metropolitan communities than small metro areas. However, growth rates well above average in the suburban and small metro area poor populations have re-drawn the map over the course of the decade.

Most notably, by 2008 a plurality of the nation’s poor lived in large metropolitan suburbs. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of these suburban poor increased by 25 percent—10 points above the national average and close to 5 times the growth rate for the poor in primary cities.

The report has interesting implications for federal urban policy. Overall, the Obama administration has stressed the importance of a metro-wide approach to urban policy, particularly in the areas of jobs and the environment. Place-based policies like Promise Neighborhoods, which focus on areas of concentrated poverty, are an adjunct to that.

To the extent that place-based policies put jobs (cradle-to-career) on an equal footing with education (cradle-to-college), integration into a broader metro-wide policy becomes more important. In theory, each of these areas are being addressed by the Obama administration's White House interagency urban policy working group.

High School Dropout Study Reveals Alarming Statistics

Researchers at Northeastern University have just released a report on the consequences of dropping out of high school. Utilizing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other government sources, the study notes a variety of employment, earnings, income, and social difficulties faced by Americans lacking high school diplomas.

One statistic dcoumented by the report was the joblessness rate for young high school dropouts, which reached a staggering 54%  last year. The study also mentioned the burden this population presents to our nation at large. It reports that over the course of his or her working life, the average high school dropout costs society nearly $5,200 while the average high school graduate makes a fiscal contribution of $287,000. The paper also noted that social and incarceration issues were highly problematic for all demographics, but often more pronounced among males and African Americans in this group.

Like the dialogue on school violence we addressed yesterday, the national conversation on school dropout rates directly connects to Promise Neighborhoods. With implications ranging from marriage and childrearing to employment and incarceration, high school dropout rates are likely to be a major focus of the program.

Monitoring Urban Economic Health

The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings has initiated MetroMonitor, a quarterly, interactive barometer of the health of America’s 100 largest metropolitan economies. According to the latest report, released earlier this month, the nation's worst-hit metropolitan areas are in California, Florida, and Midwestern manufacturing centers such as Michigan. For more information, visit the MetroMonitor web site.

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Report: More Jobs Moving Away from Inner Cities

Brookings has released a new report on the changing nature of employment in the inner city. The press release and a link to the report follow below.

Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment

Elizabeth Kneebone, Senior Research Analyst, Metropolitan Policy Program

April 06, 2009 — An analysis of the spatial location of private-sector jobs in 98 of the largest metropolitan areas by employment reveals that:

  • Only 21 percent of employees in the top 98 metro areas work within three miles of downtown, while over twice that share (45 percent) work more than 10 miles away from the city center. The larger the metro area, the more likely people are to work more than 10 miles away from downtown; almost 50 percent of jobs in larger metros like Detroit, Chicago, and Dallas locate more than 10 miles away on average compared to just 27 percent of jobs in smaller metros like Lexington-Fayette, Boise, and Syracuse.
  • Job location within metropolitan areas varies widely across industries. More than 30 percent of jobs in utilities, finance and insurance, and educational services industries locate within three miles of downtowns, while at least half of the jobs in manufacturing, construction, and retail are more than 10 miles away from central business districts.
  • Employment steadily decentralized between 1998 and 2006: 95 out of 98 metro areas saw a decrease in the share of jobs located within three miles of downtown. The number of jobs in the top 98 metro areas increased overall during this time period, but the outer-most parts of these metro areas saw employment increase by 17 percent, compared to a gain of less than one percent in the urban core. Southern metro areas were particularly emblematic of the outward shift of job share with a 2.6 percentage-point decline in urban core job share and a 4.8 point gain in the outermost ring, outpacing the 98 metro average (a 2.1 point decline and a 2.6 point gain, respectively).
  • In almost every major industry, jobs shifted away from the city center between 1998 and 2006. Of 18 industries analyzed, 17 experienced employment decentralization. Transportation and warehousing, finance and insurance, utilities, and real estate and rental and leasing showed the greatest increases in the share of jobs located more than 10 miles away from downtown.

Amid changing economic conditions—expansion, contraction, and recovery—during the late 1990s and early 2000s, employment in metropolitan America steadily decentralized. The spatial distribution of jobs has implications for a range of policy issues—from housing to transportation to economic development—and should be taken into account as metro areas work to achieve more productive, inclusive, and sustainable growth and, in the near term, economic recovery.

Full Report (pdf)

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by Dr. Radut