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Dead End in the Red Zone – Why Red States Have Endless Poverty

Welcome to the South, boy!

Problems of the white wing Republican dominated.

Image result for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Gleaming Downtown Hides a Secret

Why It’s So Hard to Get Ahead in the South

In Charlotte and other Southern cities, poor children have the lowest odds of making it to the top income bracket of kids anywhere in the country. Why?

Shamelle Jackson moved here from Philadelphia, hoping to find work opportunities and better schools for her four children, who range in age from two to 14. Instead, she found a city with expensive housing, few good jobs, and schools that can vary dramatically in quality. “I’ve never struggled as hard as I do here in Charlotte,” Jackson, 34, told me.

Jackson isn’t alone. Data suggests that Charlotte is a dead-end for people trying to escape poverty. That’s especially startling because the city is a leader in economic development in the South. Bank of America is headquartered here, and over the last two decades the city has become a hub for the financial services industry. In recent years, Charlotte and the surrounding area, Mecklenburg County, have ranked among the fastest-growing regions of the country. “Charlotte is a place of economic wonder in some ways, but it’s also a city that faces very stark disparities, and that increasingly includes worrisome pockets of real deprivation,” said Gene Nichol, a professor at the UNC School of Law who has completed an extensive report on local poverty. Some of these disparities bubbled to the surface in September, when protests erupted after a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, was shot and killed by police.

Charlotte ranked dead last in an analysis of economic mobility in America’s 50 largest cities by the Equality of Opportunity Project, a team of researchers out of Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty. Children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution in Charlotte had just a 4.4 percent chance of making it to the top 20 percent of the income distribution. That’s compared to a 12.9 percent chance for children in San Jose, California, and 10.8 percent change for children in Salt Lake City. These statistics are troubling because mobility is essentially just a formal term for the American Dream—the ability to find a good job, provide for children, and do better than one’s parents did. Rather than making it into the middle class in Charlotte, poor children, who are majority black and Latino, are very likely to stay poor.

In some ways, Charlotte is indicative of a more widespread problem in the region. Map out the data from the Equality of Opportunity Project and you’ll find that much of the South has low mobility rates. The chance of a child moving from the bottom to top quartile in Atlanta is 4.5 percent, the chance of moving up in Raleigh is 5 percent, and the chance of moving up in New Orleans is 5.1 percent.

These are among the lowest odds of advancement in the country. “The South really does struggle,” said Erin Currier, who directed the financial security and mobility project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew found that mobility lags in states including Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and North Carolina.

There’s no obvious reason why cities in the South would perform so poorly across the board. After all, economies like those in Charlotte are booming. In other places with significant economic growth, such as San Jose, this prosperity seems to be widely shared (or at least it was between 1980 and 2012, the time period over which children were tracked in Chetty’s data). In cities across the South though, economic success seems not to have trickled down to lower-income populations.

Chetty and colleagues say that there are a few key factors that play into where people struggle with economic mobility. These areas tend to be more racially segregated, have a higher share of poverty than the national average, more income inequality, a higher share of single mothers, and lower degrees of social capital, which means people interacting with others who can help them succeed, according to Nick Flamang, a predoctoral fellow with the Equality of Opportunity Project.

All of these indicators are present in Charlotte, and throughout much of the South. Segregation took root in the early 1900s, and was reinforced by Jim Crow laws and redlining in the later part of the century. It remains a problem today. The white, affluent population lives in a wedge south of the city. The census tracts north and west of the city are where the low-income people live, and those people are predominantly black and Latino.

The South also has among the highest poverty rates in the country. Mississippi ranks last, Louisiana is 49th, and North Carolina is 39th in the country when it comes to the percentage of people living below the poverty line. While Southern poverty has traditionally manifested itself in rural areas, cities are now home to some of the worst poverty in the region, according to Nichol. “If you look at census tracts, the deepest poverty in North Carolina is right in the middle of Charlotte, the middle of Greensboro, middle of Winston-Salem, the middle of Raleigh,” he said.

Indeed, concentrated poverty is becoming a pressing problem in Charlotte. The Brookings Institution data shows that in 2000, just 2 percent of poor families lived in a census tract with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher in Charlotte. That percentage had climbed to 10 percent by 2012. According to Nichol’s work, 17 census tracts in Mecklenburg County had poverty rates higher than 40 percent, a dramatic increase from 2000, when just four did. I visited neighborhoods like Lockwood, just north of downtown, where homeless people hung out at the gas stations and the small box homes had bars on their windows.

Concentrated poverty is related to another factor Chetty and his colleagues mention: social capital, which is essentially the mechanism that allows people to interact with others and become a part of broad networks that can lead to opportunity. It can help people get hooked up to first jobs, internships, and scholarships. Without these types of connections, children are more likely to take a similar path to their parents. For those who live in areas of concentrated poverty, this means they don’t learn about opportunities that might get them out of poverty, or about people in different income brackets.

Latasha Hunt, 36, is an example of what it means to lack social capital. She grew up in northern Charlotte, far from the wealth of the city’s south side. Her parents did ok, she told me—her mother worked in manufacturing and her father worked for the school system. But growing up, she didn’t know people who went to college or who worked in finance. Almost no one at her high school went to college—they all ended up getting a job right out of high school, or going to jail, she told me. Neither Hunt nor her two brothers went to college. Her brothers are both barbers, she now works in customer service at a local nonprofit. She doesn’t think she’s better off than her parents were.“My generation is struggling,” she told me. “We work every day, but it’s like we’re working just to pay for daycare.”

Hunt is a single mother, which creates its own unique challenges. She juggles taking care of her two children and working a full-time job. Many other women in Charlotte experience similar issues; in North Carolina, 65 percent of African-American children live in single parent families, according to the Kids Count Data Center from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jackson, who moved from Philadelphia, told me she lost her job in Charlotte because of “single mom stuff.” She was frequently tardy to work because she had to drop kids off at school or pick them up when they were sick, attend parent-teacher conferences, and otherwise take care of her family….Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

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What Segregation Costs Chicago

The most segregated places in America are oddly northern midwest cities. In that list are Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland.

According to a Study by Johns Hopkins a a few years ago, racism in America quite literally lops off about $2 trillion of our GDP. Just the loss of GDP due to racism in America is larger than the GDP of all but 10 countries in the world.

Racism has other impacts on the social fabric and economic activity in this country, some of which are discussed below in the attached article.

China is now the world’s largest economy. The US is number 2. And it will remain so indefinitely until we make better use of our resources. The racist Trump, and his supporters in the white right, including the Republican Party value their racism more than their country… Which means we could soon be #3. Wow! That’s a “great” way to “Make America Great Again.”

What segregation is costing Chicago

The Chicago area is the fifth most racially and economically segregated region in the nation. A new study by the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Urban Institute examines how segregation affects the region financially and the price that all residents pay in “lost income, lives and education.”

The Cost of Segregation argues that reducing Chicago’s segregation could result in higher incomes, greater educational achievement and fewer homicides across the region. Incomes for African-Americans would rise an average of $2,982 per person per year and the Chicago region’s gross domestic product, a key indicator of economic performance, would jump by $8 billion.

Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation for the Metropolitan Planning Council and an author of the study, talked to the Reporter about its findings.

What makes this study unique is that it explores how segregation affects economic growth and the quality of life for an entire city and region. We’ve read stories about Back of the Yards, Austin and other communities of color defined by high poverty rates. What prompted researchers to frame the inequality in those communities from a regional and citywide standpoint?

The Metropolitan Planning Council a couple of years ago, long before I got there, embarked on this journey with essentially two questions. [First], we’re very aware that we are a very segregated region. We’re a segregated city within that region. … There also was an understanding that in order for us to really address segregation and really commit ourselves to addressing segregation maybe the region needed more people to feel impacted.

“So is there a way we can kind of quantify those costs?” That was the first question. The second question was, “So what do we do about whatever we find?”… That kind of launched us on this path. We reached out to the Urban Institute, which had done similar work.

The premise of the study is that the region would do better if we addressed segregation in three areas: lost income, lost lives and lost opportunity, with a focus on education. Let’s start with the city’s homicide rate, which ranks 8th out of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest murder rates. The study states that the Chicago area could have boosted its economy simply by being “a safe place to live.” How is that?

When [the Urban Institute] conducted its analysis, it found a statistically significant relationship between Chicago, and between all of the metro areas, their level of black-white segregation and their rate of homicides.

If the Chicago region were to fall from 10th, which is where it ranked [in black-white segregation] to the median between 50 and 51, the Urban Institute determined that we would see a 30-percent reduction in homicide. That’s based on the lower levels of homicides that are generally found in regions that have less segregation than Chicago.

We wanted to find out what does that actually mean in real-life costs in the Chicago region. So we leaned on supplemental research, in particular research done by the Center for American Progress just a couple of years ago, where they actually asked that question: “What would happen if eight major metros saw a 10 percent or a 25 -percent reduction in the levels of homicide?”

For Chicago what the Center for American Progress found was lower policing costs, lower corrections costs and earnings [that would have occurred] if there were fewer victims of homicide. And there would also be a boost in residential property values based on research that the Center for American Progress conducted, which found that growth in homicides equated to a decline in residential property values. We took those numbers that the Center for American Progress developed and extrapolated them based on the Urban Institute’s prediction that the Chicago region would see a 30-percent reduction in homicides. … What that equated to was $65 million of policing and fewer policing cost, $218 million fewer corrections cost and the $6 billion bump in the residential property values for the entire region.

Between 1990 and 2010, two-thirds of the nation’s largest regions reduced their economic segregation more than Chicago did. Chicago declined by 10 percent, but to keep up it would have to decline by 19 percent  in terms of economic segregation, 28 percent in terms of Latino-white segregation and 36 percent in terms of African-American and white segregation.  Why did other cities make more progress than Chicago in reducing segregation?

The analysis gives us more of the what than it does the why. And so in the second phase of our work, we are seeking input from a whole host of experts and stakeholders around what policies and strategies we should recommend to address the segregation. We also want to take a look at some places that have seen a sharper drop in economic segregation, that have seen stronger progress in terms of mostly black-white segregation. And then also looking inward because Chicago has seen declines across the board and is in fact the only metro area of those 100 metro areas that saw from 1990 to 2000 and from 2000 to 2010 minor drops in all three of those measures of segregation.

There’s a difference in the segregation gap between African-Americans and whites and Latinos and whites. Why does it vary so much in Chicago?

The level of black-white segregation is measured by something the Urban Institute used called the spatial proximity index. In Chicago in 2010 that number was 1.87. That number was 1.5 for the Chicago region in terms of Latinos and whites. And so there are differences. And across the nation, generally speaking, the levels of black-white segregation were higher than the measures for Latino-white segregation.

It’s not 100 percent clear at least from the research why that is. [Surveys in Chicago] have shown among the white respondents that there is a greater willingness to live next to Latino neighbors than to African-American neighbors. Some of the other things that may play a part in that is that as Latino migration has  increased dramatically over the past 40 years or so, there are greater entry points and perhaps more opportunities that have been explored by Latinos.

In Chicago the way that’s played out is Latinos initially were migrating to the city. But increasingly over the last 20, maybe 30 years or so, that destination has trended toward the suburbs. As a result, that has produced a kind of a lessening of segregation because Latinos are found throughout the suburban regions of Chicago far more often than you’ll find African-Americans. African-Americans are largely in two clusters to the south and to the west in suburban Chicago. Latinos are far more spread out, and their numbers are higher in the suburbs and in more places.

To some degree, at least through the surveys that we’ve seen, there is perhaps less of a reaction to Latino neighbors. But that’s not to say that there isn’t white flight in response to Latino migration or other challenges. … While we don’t present any statistically significant findings of the cost of Latino-white segregation [in the study], we see greater amounts of gentrification in Latino neighborhoods that are seeing an influx of white residents. And while Latinos are more suburbanized, they, generally speaking, are more likely to be segregated in more deindustrialized and declining communities in the suburbs. And Latino children are more likely to be in largely Latino schools serving low-income students.

 

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Why the Poor Stay Poor in America

In summary – America is Failing

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

Where you are born counts… What you should notice is that the Red State South still serves as the boat anchor holding the rest of the country back. That is in huge reason today due to failed Republican Tax CUt policies necessitating a reduction in every service from social services to education. You get what you pay for, and in the case of conservative tax cut and slash policy – what you get is stagnant economic mobility. Ergo the poor stay poor.

In America, the Poorer You Are, the Poorer Your Children Will Be

This country’s terrible social safety net is making it impossible for working-class parents to keep up with their wealthier peers.

When people talk about “balancing work and family,” they’re usually talking more about the workplace than what’s going on at home. Now we’re starting to get data on what the workaday life looks like from a kid’s eye view, and it doesn’t look good.

When debating the issue of work-life balance, arguments over unlimited vacation and employment discrimination center around women’s barriers to opportunity—the perennial glass ceiling that Anne Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg rage at when lamenting not “having it all.” For working-class folks crushed by on-call schedules or poverty wages, it’s often hard to find any life outside work, let alone to balance work and family lives. But centering the conversation not on career ambition but the life course of a family helps put the false dichotomy of work vs. life in perspective.

In their new book “Too Many Children Left Behind,”Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook help illuminate these gaps by comparing the impacts of inequality across four wealthy countries—the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They found that poor children in the US are “doubly disadvantaged relative to their peers in the other three countries” because the government’s “social safety net and supports for working families do the least among the four countries to combat inequality”—particularly our national lack of guaranteed paid time off and vacation.

That’s old news, but the center of the researchers’ narrative is not necessarily workers’ lives but their children’s. Poverty limits access to basic resources like nutrition and decent childcare. But a geometrically expanding class divide looms over all income brackets, as wealthier parents zealously splurge on “enrichment expenditures”:

spending on books, computers, high-quality child care, summer camps, private schooling, and other resources that offer a motivating and nurturing environment for children. A generation or more ago, during the early 1970s, a typical family in the top fifth of the income distribution spent about $3,850 per year on resources like these, four times as much as the typical family at the bottom of the income distribution, which spent about $925…. by 2005 it had grown tremendously, to $9,800 versus $1,400.

So poor parents struggling just to cover basic food and shelter face both massive income inequality in their day-to-day lives, plus a seven-fold gap in the amount they can “invest” to help their children thrive in the future. Given that social mobility is already suppressed at all income levels—with children’s future earnings highly correlated with the earnings of their parents—the Herculean amount of “catch up” poor parents must undertake just to get on the same footing as their higher-earning peers makes the great American wealth gap seem even more devastating, for both today’s working households and generations to come.

Moreover, the gender gap straddles the class divide: the “earnings advantage” provided by parents’ wealth, or lack thereof, is skewed against women. A child is likely to inherit a greater share of his dad’s wealth than mom’s. Beyond the perennial “equal pay” debate and the simplistic notion of “78 cents on the dollar,” how does that reality of gender inequality play out in family dynamics, in those difficult late-night conversations on who should stay home with a newborn, or stay late at the office?

But the most enduring impact of these deficits may be impossible to quantify. Economic disadvantage intertwined with structural inequality has a savage effect on a child’s long-term educational prospects—including basic preschool-level skills, like language aptitude and sociability, and failing primary-school grades. And the “achievement gap” (which is itself a notion often politicized with complex racial biases) has folded into a deepening black-white education divide over the last three decades.

Other research has revealed that economic status is a growing factor in academic outcomes, as “the relationship between income and achievement has grown sharply” over the last 50 years. So wealth trumps intellect on many levels.

Closing the gap takes more systemic solutions than just “leaning in.” Class lines reflect a deficit of democracy, created by neglect of government institutions. Research suggests much of the education gap is perpetuated or aggravated while children are wending through the highly segregated school system.

Co-author Jane Waldfogel says via e-mail that in addition to better workplace benefits, policy solutions might come through richer, more accessible early education and childcare: “Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds would help level the playing field by ensuring that all preschoolers receive educationally oriented early education (rather than the case now, where more affluent families can buy preschool, while lower income families have to make do with lower quality care).”

Federal programs like Head Start and childcare subsidies have for years suffered massive funding gaps, leaving tens of thousands of kids underserved. But some states are directing resources into expanding preschool—with pioneering programs in New York City—though it remains to be seen whether lawmakers who have failed to adequately fund K-12 are really willing to invest enough public dollars in the long-term to create a sustainable universal pre-K system.

Waldfogel’s research reveals a need for not just income supports but simply less need to work all the time. For young children of parents who are either out working around the clock, or constantly stressed at home, overwork translates into a materially and emotionally impoverished home environment. During the developmental years, research shows “inequalities in income and family resources are in turn linked with disparities in more proximal factors such as books in the home, lessons and activities outside the home, and parents’ spanking.”

Although many factors shape a household’s social climate, the connection between a parents’ economic frustrations and a pattern of a lack of nurture, even cruelty at home, suggests a troubling through-line in this inheritance of inequity: Wealth doesn’t trickle down, yet economic violence does.…More…

 

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