Friday, December 7, 2007

Riding the Poverty Train in Montgomery County

I understand that the Columbus Dispatch series is about the core cities of Ohio, but it perpetuates the mind-set that city and suburb are seperate, which is a common belief in the Dayton area.

And in many ways Dayton and suburban Montgomery County are the two solitudes.

But in one way, economics, they are not. Dayton is one metropolitian area and one economic market.
So it's interesting to see how the long term economic decline of the region is not confined to Dayton city.

I find this map a very good demonstration of this. It maps the change in poverty over the 1970-2000 time frame, the period when the Dayton metro area stopped growing and saw some big job losses. It shows which census tracts saw an increase or decrease in poverty, even if it meant the actual poverty rate was very low. ...in other words, tracts in, say, Kettering, may have moved from 0% to .05% poverty, a very small amount, but still an uptick.

What the above map demonstrates was that poverty was incerasing across Montgomery County, not just in Dayton, even in outer suburbs like Vandalia, Englewood, Fairborn, Huber Heights, and so forth. Then this chart (based on County Business Patterns data), showing the decline in manufacturing employment in Montgomery County.

The map does not show the big drop at the start of the 1970s when NCR shut down manufacturing here. I would love to find the 1970 number for the county, but one can still see the long term slide down, even starting at 1977.
The reason I harp on manufacturing is that this sector had three things:

1. A lot of jobs for unskilled workers and people without college degrees.

2. Jobs that paid a living wage.


3. Jobs that had health benefits and pensions and seniority due to unionization.


Take all this away and one can see how median income could decline, and that at the bottom of the job market more would be forced into poverty.

So, perhaps one is seeing is the local development of a national phenomena, the transformation of the USA into a two-class economy or society by cutting blue and pink collar workers out of the middle class via the reduction in living wage jobs.


What's also interesting is that a Dayton region with widespread prosperity is within living memory of the older generation. Seeing this go away may account for the local pessimism and negativity.

3 comments:

Bruce Kettelle said...

I still beleive the age demographic will help emphasize your analysis. There is an ongoing drop in under 34 year olds and increases in the older population. Look at this quote from MVRPC's Western Montgomery County Transportation Study

"DEMOGRAPHIC TREND (1990-2000)
•The study area experienced a 10 percent increase in residents 65 years or older and an increase of 14 percent in the number of residents 45-65 years old. During this same period, the population between 25-34 years decreased by 19 percent."

Jeffrey said...

I'd say if there is an increase in the 65 plus, that would account for a decrease in income, due to pensions not really replacing working income.

Pre-retirment cohorts migh have peak incomes though, due being peak earning yearrs vs retirement or under 34 year olds (early career- lower income).

The real worry is if there is a loss in the 18-34 population, as a city or region would be losing its replacement workforce as older cohorts retire, esp if there was no in-migration.

Bruce Kettelle said...

The 25-34 group is most likely to have children under 18. This is extremely important to marketers as those households tend to need the most retail support. Older households tend to have more of what they need and buy less and less each year aside from essential food and clothes.

There are great housing options in western Montgomery County but they are only projecting a 3,000 person population increase over 20 years. That is pale compared to Greene and Warren Counties. Does that mean they expect the current residents and their incomes to remain unchanged for 20 years as well?