Alternative Scenarios for Philadelphia's Future
Throughout this volume we have interpreted Philadelphia's social and political relations primarily as a reflection of the region's economic currents, which are in turn the products of national and global economic trends. We have argued that patterns of neighborhood change, racial conflict, and fragmentation within the predominant political party are all directly tied to the economy's distribution of wages and investment capital. In Philadelphia, as in other American cities included in this series, the distribution of resources and life chances generated by the regional economy is increasingly uneven. Is this trend toward racial and class inequality likely to continue?
To the extent that the regional economy continues its shift toward services, inequalities will persist. The reason lies in the distribution of jobs generated by the new service economy. We report in Chapter 2 that the occupational distributions of blacks and whites are increasingly similar. Still, blacks are at some disadvantage. Whereas whites distribute themselves across all major job categories, black workers have found employment primarily as operatives or as clerical or service workers. Blacks are underrepresented among professionals and managers. Hispanics, too, are disproportionately employed as operatives and service workers, and also as laborers. Unlike blacks, Hispanics are underrepresented among office and clerical workers. We document also the widening disparities in the incomes earned by those who hold the best jobs, primarily managerial and professional, and those who hold the less desirable jobs as clerical, sales, and service workers. Though employment is rising in the black and Hispanic communities at present, that does not mean that the income gap dividing them from whites is likely to narrow.
The growing inequalities among different segments of the region's population will continue to be reflected in its housing market. Those fortunate workers holding the well-paid professional and technical jobs will predominate in the suburbs, in some comfortable, tree-lined areas of the city like