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Background on Inner Cities and Hartford, CT

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The Briefing Room

BACKGROUND ON INNER CITIES AND HARTFORD, CT
November 4, 1999

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON INNER CITIES

A booming national economy, coupled with the success of strong local efforts and the Clinton Administrationís community development agenda, has helped many cities experience a strong fiscal and economic recovery. But while many inner cities -- poor urban neighborhoods within larger central cities — have seen economic gains, they still have not fully participated in the economic prosperity and may face the challenges of population decline, loss of middle-class families, slow job growth, income inequality, and poverty. Furthermore, inner city neighborhoods often lag behind the strong economies of the vibrant metropolitan areas in which they are located Ė and at the end of the 20th century there are still pockets of poverty amidst the growing national economic prosperity.

THE GOOD NEWS FOR OUR NATIONíS CITIES

  • Population increased in two-thirds of all central cities from 1980-1998. Immigrant families play a significant role in creating these population increases, especially in gateway cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Seattle. (Department of Housing and Urban Development).
  • Employment is on the rise in most central cities. The number of employed residents living in central cities grew by 10.4 percent, or 3.7 million people, from 1992 to 1998. In the nationís fifty largest cities, the drop in unemployment was larger in the central city than in the suburbs. Just as important, in 77 large central cities, average annual pay rose by 4.6 percent, compared with a 3.6 percent increase for suburban jobs. Cities with dramatic declines in unemployment between 1992 and 1998 include: Detroit, MI (dropped from 16.9% to 7.2% during this period); Atlanta, GA (10.0 % to 5.6%); Hartford, CT (12.6% to 6.7%); Newark (16.6% to 9.6%); and Santa Ana, CA (11.8% to 5.2%). (Department of Housing and Urban Development, "State of the Cities, 1999").
  • Homeownership is increasing in central cities. For the first time in history, more than half of central city households are homeowners. Central city homeownership rates have increased from 48.9 percent at the end of 1993 to 50.5 percent in the third quarter of 1999. This increase in homeownership has been led by both African-American and Hispanic families, whose homeownership rates have been increasing faster than the rate for white families. (Department of Housing and Urban Development).

SOME CITIES STILL FACE CHALLENGES TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

  • Not all cities are sharing in the prosperity. Some inner cities with high unemployment rates in 1998 include: Madera, CA — 18.3%; Brownsville, TX — 14.5%; Atlantic City, NJ — 13.4%; Yuma, AZ — 19.7; North Chicago, IL — 10.2%; Flint,MI — 10.2%; Miami, FL — 9.3%; Newark — 9.6%; Hartford — 6.7%; and East St. Louis, IL — 9.8%. (Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Places Left Behind.").
  • One in three central cities continues to lose population. Between 1980 and 1998, population declined 5% or more in 24.2% of the central cities. Over half (57.3%) of these cities lost over 10% of their population, despite the fact that the overall U.S. population grew by 19.3% during this period. These cities lost the workers and the consumers to grow their economy, as well as the tax base needed to protect the livability and strengthen the local business climate. Shrinking cities tend to have higher rates of unemployment than cities with a growing or stable population. (Department of Housing and Urban Development, "State of the Cities, 1999").
  • Poverty has also improved, but remains too high. Poverty in central cities declined from 21.5% to 18.5% between 1993 and 1998. However, central city poverty remains significantly higher than the 12.7% poverty rate nationally. Moreover, nearly one-in-three inner cities, 170 cities total, had poverty rates of 20 percent or more in 1995. High poverty cities in 1995 include: Washington, DC (21%); New Orleans, LA (34%); St. Louis, MO (30%); Philadelphia, PA (24%); Richmond, VA (25%); and Miami, FL (43%). (Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development). While the strong economic growth in the past 4 years likely reduced poverty rates, poverty is still too prevalent.
  • Poverty concentration and job mismatches. The outmigration of middle and upper-middle income Americans has left behind concentrations of poor people and has sapped once thriving areas of their economic vitality. Rapid redevelopment outside of central cities has created a mismatch between where many potential workers live and where jobs are located. This leads to high joblessness in some pockets while jobs go unfilled in other parts of the same other wise healthy metro areas. (Department of Housing and Urban Development, "State of the Cities, 1999").

BACKGROUND ON HARTFORD

Hartford is the capital of the State of Connecticut and the core of a metropolitan area with a population of over one million. The City of Hartford has a long history as a thriving manufacturing center for precision manufacturers producing such goods as firearms, typewriters, bicycles and early automobiles. It later developed as a center for defense-related industries and as the headquarters for many of our nationís leading banks and insurance companies. As a result of the national recession that occurred during 1989-1992, many of the companies located in the region underwent an economic restructuring, resulting in a loss of jobs, a decline in population, abandoned housing and a blighted and underutilized downtown and commercial district. Key facts about Hartford include:

  • The population of Hartford, has declined slightly from 136,392 in 1980 to an estimated 131,523 in 1998, a 3.6 percent drop. (Bureau of the Census).
  • The demographics of Hartfordís population was 36.3% African-American, 31.0% Hispanic and 30.7% white (non-Hispanic) in 1990. (Bureau of the Census).
  • The poverty rate, which increased from 27.5% in 1989 to 38.3% in 1993, dropped to 35.2% in 1995. (Bureau of the Census).
  • The cityís unemployment rate declined from 10.8% in 1993 to 6.7% in 1998. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the suburbs declined from 6.3% to 3.5% between 1993 and 1998. (Department of Housing and Urban Development).
  • The cityís per capita income was $32,035 compared to $25,288 for the nation in 1997. (Bureau of the Census).
  • Retail sales were $1.4 billion in 1998. (Claritas).
  • Homeownership in Hartford was 66.2% in 1998, up from 58.7% in 1993, and now roughly the same as the 66.3% in the nation. (Department of Housing and Urban Development).

Hartford is home to more insurance companies than any other city in the world. It serves as the headquarters for Aetna Life Insurance Company, Travelers Insurance Company, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Company and Principal Mutual Life Insurance Company. It is also considered the stateís cultural center, featuring its own symphony, ballet and opera companies, the Wadsworth Atheneum, -- the nationís oldest public art museum, and the Hartford Stage, a Tony-award winning theatre company.

 

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