Jobs and Economic Development in Minority Communities

Jobs and Economic Development in Minority Communities

Jobs and Economic Development in Minority Communities

Jobs and Economic Development in Minority Communities


Community economic development offers a promise of greater employment, but job opportunities have been slow to develop in minority neighbourhoods. After decades of efforts to combat poverty, wages are low, benefits are scarce, and employment is unstable in these communities. The structural forces that have created impoverished neighbourhoods are likely to become even more powerful as globalization intensifies, economic and spatial restructuring continues, and the ethnic composition of the population changes. Planners and policy makers need to rethink and reformulate community economic development in ways that account for the particularities of different minority groups. A problem as pervasive and entrenched as structural unemployment cannot be approached with a "fits all" strategy. This book considers these new challenges by examining case studies of economic development and job creation in different physical and social settings across the nation to forge a new agenda for community economic development in minority neighbourhoods.


Paul Ong and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Community economic development (CED) offers a promise of improving economic and employment opportunities for low-income minority communities. Impoverished neighborhoods of color are inherent to our nation, rooted in fundamental failings of the postindustrial economy. the shift to a service economy and the decline of traditional manufacturing has disproportionately impacted such communities by undercutting their employment bases. the concomitant spatial restructuring, with the increasing geographic separation of people and jobs, has added to their woes. Economic globalization has boosted the profits of multinational corporations by depressing labor wages within the United States and exporting jobs overseas to lower-wage and nonunionized environments. All these have contributed to structural unemployment, poverty, and welfare dependency, a process most pronounced for the residents of minority neighborhoods.

But the plight of minority neighborhoods is not merely an outcome of economic restructuring or globalization. Caught in a vicious circle, disadvantaged communities concentrate poverty and accentuate inequality as they segregate and isolate poor people of color. Their location often denies residents access to employment and business opportunities and may hinder civic and political participation. Their existence serves as a mechanism that infects and distorts basic social services, such as public education and health care, creating a two-tier system of citizens. These neighborhoods have emerged as the dumping grounds for environmental ills. Many of today's ghettos, ethnic enclaves, barrios, and reservations are the visible manifestations of America's festering domestic shortcomings, which should not be hidden or ignored.

Efforts to address the plight of poor neighborhoods are not new. a systematic response to poverty as a matter of public policy dates back to President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty (1964–1968). There is considerable debate about the effectiveness and long-term accomplishments of this effort. Some have argued that little has been achieved because poverty has not been eliminated or even reduced. Indeed, the poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5 percent, not much different from 1968's 12.8 percent. This simple yardstick, however, ignores some important positive legacies, such as the . . .

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