Sunday, December 10, 2006

Statistics: Now Paranoid White People Must Move to Canada

Qui Gonn emailed me this link a few days ago. New government numbers (ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz..... I know. Sorry. This is what I do) show that suburban poor now outnumber urban poor for the first time in history.

The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is still higher than it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent). But the overall number of people living in poverty is higher in the suburbs in part because of population growth.

Most major cities are essentially full, with level or declining population numbers. In the 90's we saw an urban rebirth, with large swaths of major cities extensively gentrified and redeveloped. That had the effect of reducing poverty and density, and raising the cost of living - pulling in single yuppies and working empty nesters, but further driving away families. This pattern is compounded by the decentralized nature of new job creation, which is mostly in the service sector, and driven by the internet and other new technologies. There are almost no factories left. We do not need large concentrations of workers in one place built around transportation hubs. You can be a lawyer, engineer, nurse, or waiter almost anywhere.

Ironically though, I think this is actually going to increase racial and socio-economic tension in this country. Just look at the pattern of suburban growth. Umbrella Corporation Developer buys 20 acres of land. They build two units of housing on each acre. These housing are sold to people who are generally rich, white, and well educated.

They sell these homes for as much as they can, generally $500,000 a piece or more. If the state/county/municipality has an affordable housing requirement of some kind (most do), they also buy one acre of land as far away as possible (so as not to lower real estate prices in the rich area where they're trying to sell luxury homes), and build 40 units of on each acre. These units are generally sold or rented to people who are poorer, minorities, maybe recent immigrants, and much less educated.

So, even though they're both in the burbs, they're seperated far more then they ever were in the city. The most segregated state in the union is heavily suburbanized New Jersey - which is what the rest of America will soon look like.

Cue high pitched "Psycho" string instruments.
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