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Living here in Allentown

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.

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."
Cue the Billy Joel song...

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Considering Concealed Carry said...

Living in Allentown, and have this to say:

Take this with a liberal bucket of salt. The real story about Allentown is its transformation from a middle class city of home owners of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) ancestry into a near majority Latino hellhole (>50% Latino expected by 2013). We have schools now with 60% turnover in the elementary grades. White flight has essentially devolved into "I'll stay until my kids are in the 4th grade. Oops, never mind, leaving now."

Demographics here:

There was a mid-census estimate but their site looks 'redesigned'.

Tim said...

I've heard much the same thing from my parents, both of whom worked their entire careers in the Lehigh Valley as educators.

Still considering CCW said...

The article is mistaken. It asserts ABE had 1.4% poor in 1999.
The correct number is at least 8.4% for the Lehigh Valley, and 9.3% for just Lehigh County.

Entire thesis fails on the sniff test.


dirtycrumbs said...

"Latino Hellhole?"

Um, the city is certainly not helped any by racist grouches who chase away all the young people with dying provincialism.

And I have to laugh at anyone who pegs all of Allentown's problems on the Latinos. What does "white Allentown" have to show for itself? The sprawl of McArthur Road? Lower Macungie McMansions? Another Itallian chain restaurant?

No thanks.

I'll take the raucous energy of the Puerto Ricans downtown over the miserable PA Dutch any day...

B Batard said...

Well, I'm in Central PA and was toying with the idea of teaching the LSAT for Kaplan and had to travel to Allentown from here. My wife has several friends on one of the groups she either moderates or is a member of, and most of the folks that have moved in that direction from Central PA have done so because salaries are higher.

Maybe some of these folks are the hangers on who stayed after working to build those Wal-Marts that were built using non US labor.

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