Saturday, October 3, 2009

Journalistic Poverty

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the latest American Community Survey findings that Milwaukee is the 11th poorest city in the nation. It is good to bring attention to such discrepancies, but as I've said over and over here, the correct and complete context of what's being represented is crucial.

The Wisconsin poverty rate ranks 39th, the 12th best (including D.C.) in the nation. The County's poverty rate was 11.8 percent, with an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in 2008.

This tells us that we've basically segregated the majority of our poor people in Milwaukee. Which puts a disproportionate budget burden on the City to provide services for the poor. And, this is the real problem. Milwaukee is the de facto dumping ground for those needing public services (health, shelter, police, food, etc.), and the City is left to find the resources to pay this bill.

This situation, in turn, obviously inflates the unemployment rate (among other negative indicators) for the City. But, poverty and unemployment are not just city concerns, they are state and national issues.

The article could have been a spring board to discussion about regionalism, affordable housing, jobs programs, and a whole host of ideas of how to better cope with poverty and unemployment, with some type of shared response.

For Further Reading:
Getting The Facts Right About Segregation
Quantifying Milwaukee's Segregation

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