Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Origins of the Urban Crisis (a Dayton version?)

Two books that are very useful in understanding the local predicament are “The Origins of the Urban Crisis” by TJ Sugrue and “When Work Disappears” by William J Wilson. Maybe, too, “The Truly Disadvantaged”, also by Wilson.

These books are about Detroit and Chicago but are relevant as the situations describe happened here too.

One can see statistical evidence it in the sidebar to the recent Columbus Dispatch article on Dayton. The article is a topic of discussion at Dayton OS, and Ellen Belcher is blogging on it at the DDN.

Here’s a take on Dayton, using some of the concepts and POV from “The Making of the Urban Crisis”, working with the Columbus Dispatch graphics, but also some other info sources.

First, this impressive graphic from the Dispatch sidebar, showing decline in employment and especially manufacturing employment (click on the images for an enlargement)

Then another look at how manufacturing employment declines, based on census numbers available at a HUD website, but using the 1949 number from the Dispatch graphic as a starting point.

One of Sugrue’s theses is that there was a decline in job opportunities as manufacturing automated and relocated, and that this was happening (in Detroit) as early as the 1950s, This “economic structural adjustment” had a direct impact on the economic fortunes and life chances of the black community. Then, picking up the theme (but using a different city), Wilson discusses the formation and solidification of a black urban underclass due to long term loss of work.

One can see this in Dayton, too, given the decline in people holding factory jobs even during the postwar boom, but then a drastic drop after 1970. So maybe deindustrialization was delayed here somewhat, compared to Detroit.

One can see that there is an increase in median income to 1970s (from the Dispatch chart)

...until 1970, when income stagnates and drops, which corresponds with the steep decline in manufacturing employment after 1970.

And also an increase in poverty after 1970...

It’s also interesting to see how education attainment improves, but median income declines and poverty increases at the same time..., a more educated but worse-paid workforce.

Looking at employment by sector in Dayton, an overall decrease in employment...

...but taking away manufacturing, employment, in numbers, is pretty stable

…which seems to imply (since poverty increases and median income declines) that good paying jobs have went away, (or Daytonians don’t have access to them) . Increased unemployment may have also helped drive down wages, the function of what Karl Marx called “the reserve army of the unemployed”.

Now, lets see how this works geographically and racially, and how the black community was perhaps disproportionately impacted by these changes.

First, the black neighborhoods around 1970. Special note is made of Westwood, as this was, by 1970, a blue collar black neighborhood. (per “Westwood, Dayton, Ohio : an urban geographic study of racial transition” , by Paul Kendall)

Then poverty in 1970. As one can see, concentrated in black areas, but not all black tracts were poor, nor deeply poor. Westwood was not poor.
Then one see's how poverty spreads and deepens during the 20 years after 1970, particularly in the black community

…ending with Westwood moving from a black working class neighborhood to the beginnings of a poverty pocket.

I recognize that the black area of Dayton was growing during this time, so one does wonder if there was “black flight” from poorer neighborhoods. I suspect, though, that the loss of better paying jobs, particularly in manufacturing, led to diminishing life chances for black folk, helping create an urban underclass, and that this is a multi-generation process extending over decades.

It might be worth taking a closer look at the de-industrialization of Dayton, and at the changing color line, in future blog posts.


Greg Hunter said...

Jeffery - Thanks for the excellent work and I as always you get the data and all I work with is anecdotes. As you know I have an Oil and Race bent as in my opinion they are root causes and everything else is moot.

I find that it interesting, and so have others, that our highest income and manufacturing occurred just as the US was peaking in oil production.

I would also suspect, but cannot confirm that Westwood was somewhat integrated in the mid 1960s and your poverty pocket was a result of the first wave of white flight due to the Great Society Policies. I went to a Church called Far Hills Baptist (now Far Hills Community), that originally started as Westwood Baptist Church. I have argued to my mother and to the Church that it was un Christian to participate in the the sprawl by moving where the money moved, but there new monstrosity is now on Clyo Road. I think it goes without saying none of the original Westwood flock was black.

Jeffrey said...

According to the census numbers the lower part of Westwood was 90% or more black by 1970 and the northern part was between 50% and 90%, so it was already a black neighborhood, more or less.

The masters theses that I cite says that Westwood was a working class white neighborhood, and the blacks that moved in were also working class, so there was not a socioeconomic differential, at first. White guy working at, say, Dayton Tire moves out and a black guy working at, say, Kuhns or McCalls moves in.

This is what leads to my inference that the neighborhood became poorer as the blacks lost their jobs as plants shut-down or cut back, not so much because whites moved out. This tracks with Sugrues findings about Detroit