Before Richard Florida there was David Rusk.
Rusk, former mayor of Albuquerque, was the urban affairs analyst who came to Dayton back in the 1990s, on the strength of his 1993 urban policy book, Cities Without Suburbs. Like Florida he spoke a Wright State, giving a presentation on how the Dayton region was doing.
And it wasn't doing too good.
Rusk identified a collection of cities that he identified as "beyond the point of no return". Dayton was on this list.
Cities beyond the point of no return met the following criteria
- Major population loss since peak (20% or more)
- Disporportionate minority population (3 to 5 times or more than the metro average)
- Average income levels 70% or less than the suburban levels
However, Rusk, in the revised edition of his book, notes that as of the 2000 census Dayton did close the income gap:
1990: City as a % of Suburban Income= 64.1%
2000: City as a % of Suburban Income= 66.3%
...yet Dayton continued to lose population and become more minority.
Rusk did note that the 2000 census measured things at the top of an economic boom, so may overstate gains. And given the economic decline since 2000 one can wonder if the suburban income levels are also dropping.
Perhaps the city as a % of suburban income number will drop again in 2010, but due to an overall economic decline actings as an equalizing effect, plus some gentrification action in the inner city.
One also wonders though if the incomes improvement that would accrue due to downtown and historic district gentrification would be cancelled out by overall decline in the outer neighborhoods of the city.
Or, alternatively, Daytons numbers might improve due to abandonmnet, as the city becomes less poor, but less populated, too.