National report lands Grand Rapids Top 10 in concentrated poverty
Brookings Institution beforeitsnews.com
Patrick Center August 18, 2014 | WGVU A Brookings Institution report says neighborhoods in Grand Rapids where poverty rates are 20-percent or higher, have experienced a 281-percent growth in poor neighborhood population.
Arriving at that startling number, Brookings compares census data from 2008 through 2012, with data from the year 2000. Grand Rapids lost about 25,000 workers in that time frame.
“You lose that many workers that’s about just under 10-percent of our overall workforce, it’s going to lead to poverty and concentrated poverty in our area.”
Dr. Paul Isely is Chair of the Economics Department in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. He’s referenced in the report that he says is now out-of-date.
“But let’s look at the last couple years, too.”
A few keystrokes at the census bureau website.
“And we’re going to use May data. So, we’re going to compare Mays to May.”
Isely says that data shows there’s been an acceleration of jobs over the last two years out pacing employment from the year 2000.
“The flipside of that is we make less money than we did before. So more people are working but they’re making less in real terms meaning they can purchase fewer things with the money that they have than they could in the year 2000.”
How can that scenario improve the situation of high concentration poverty in Grand Rapids?
“Many families again now have two wage earners. That starts to bring people out of poverty, but what it also has done is it’s allowed businesses to come back to Michigan.”
It’s just going to take a lot more," says Diana Sieger, President of non-profit, Grand Rapids Community Foundation. She says its time the community addresses concentrated poverty.
“And there are so many engrained issues in all of this. It doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. You know, it’s a business of inclusion, of race, of a whole host of things; people’s perceptions, ideologies. It doesn’t matter if people are a Democrat or a Republican.”
Sieger says it’s about the private and public sectors working together to make Grand Rapids a better place to live and work.
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