Tuesday, August 12, 2008
My old Pennsylvania stomping ground is in the news today, but not in a good sort of way. In this report about the working poor, the Lehigh Valley tops the list of metro areas with the biggest increases in low-income workers.
The number of low-income workers living in poor neighborhoods rose in 34 of 58 metro areas, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, a study released Tuesday finds.Cue the Billy Joel song...
The economy played the largest role in concentrating poor workers in poor communities, a report by the Brookings Institution suggests.
"The people living in these communities are already at the margins," says Alan Berube, co-author of the report. "When things are booming, they get swept up in the growth, and when there's a downturn, they are the first to get affected."
In Allentown, the percentage of low-income workers in poor communities jumped from 1.4% in 1999 to 19.6% in 2005, the highest of the metro areas in the study.
The figure coincides with an increase in the number of people living in poverty in Allentown, which rose from 18.5% in 2000 to 25% in 2005, says Ira Faro, development director for the Lehigh County Conference of Churches. He says as the area continues to lose manufacturing jobs, "More people with full or part-time jobs are having a harder time making ends meet."