In Chicago the Wealthy Are Doing Fine

At Bloomberg View Noah Smith has a post with multiple graphs and charts that substantiates points I’ve been making here over the years about Chicago. So, for example, this passages substantiates the point I’ve made from time to time—that conscious or not Rahm Emanuel’s strategy for Chicago is to drive poor people from the city:

The city’s defenders like to point out that both the homicide wave and income declines are confined to certain areas of the city. But maybe that’s exactly the problem. By some measures, Chicago is the most segregated city in the nation (although it has become slightly less so in recent years). A 2016 study by the Chicago Urban League found that Chicago’s black residents have seen their poverty rates rise, even as the city provides fewer social services for black neighborhoods. No wonder, then, that black Chicagoans are heavily over-represented among those moving away from the city.

Chicago, in other words, is failing its poor residents, and especially its poor black residents. This is probably not a recent thing, either — Chicago has a long and sordid history of racial segregation. But if the city is going to fix its problems, it’s going to have to reverse that legacy.

More police officers are unlikely to remedy the situation. Chicago already has the highest police to population ratio of any major U. S. city. Besides, Chicago can’t afford more police officers: the average Chicago police officer earns over $100,000 per year plus benefits. It’s more what the police do and don’t do than how many of them there are.

One thing that Mr. Smith doesn’t delve into is that while metro area GDP and the number of jobs in the metro area are rising sharply that doesn’t mean that’s the case for the city of Chicago. The metro area includes Oak Brook, Naperville, and Waukegan. What’s happening here is that the rich are remaining in the city, the poor are staying in the city, those in the middle who are mobile are leaving.

7 comments… add one
  • Guarneri

    “…those in the middle who are mobile are leaving.”

    You bet. Middle class blacks are, especially, moving to the south suburbs. Less so to the west and far west suburbs. Naperville is becoming a haven for large Indian populations.

    But changing the dynamic seems nearly impossible at this time. Chicago is broke. No matter what you think about the efficacy of more services for the poor, there is no money under the current regime. And the place, state and local, is being run for the benefit of Rahm and Madigan and their tribes. Talk about income inequality. A shame.

  • Jan

    …And yet the Dems continue to call themselves adovocates of the poor and defenders of struggling minorities.

  • PD Shaw

    I’ve spent a lot of time in the suburbs of Indianapolis and St. Louis this Fall for soccer tournaments, and there is a sameness in the hollowing-out around the edges of the core cities and the newness of the suburban schools and retail strip malls. I don’t know how much of this is unique or what the answers are. Earlier this year I found a Minneapolis mayor saying that many of the large city poor require higher levels of services than their tax base can provide, so its important to work to keep the upper middle class residents from moving out.

  • Earlier this year I found a Minneapolis mayor saying that many of the large city poor require higher levels of services than their tax base can provide, so its important to work to keep the upper middle class residents from moving out.

    You can’t accomplish that by raising property taxes and sales taxes as has been the case in Chicago. Those are very regressive.

    When you pile on the building of amenities that appeal primarily to the upper middle class, the simplest explanation is that they’re trying to attract the Creative Class and drive the poor out.

  • Andy

    PD,

    “I don’t know how much of this is unique or what the answers are.”

    I’ve seen that a lot all around the country but there are exceptions – the high-growth cities. Denver, for example, can’t build enough housing downtown fast enough.

  • PD Shaw

    Andy, Chicago is building, possibly more than Denver is:

    “Between 2010 and 2016, Chicago’s density has increased by 1.2%. It may not seem like much, but considering Chicago’s stagnant population growth, the report suggests that the Windy City’s population is shifting and refocusing in the city center. Middle class black families are leaving Chicago while younger, more affluent residents are flocking into areas like the Loop, the West Loop, and Wicker Park. The only major city that has become more dense in the same time period? Seattle.

    “It’s interesting to see Seattle and Chicago take the top two spots on the charts, especially when considering that Seattle led the nation for active tower cranes by the end of 2016, with Chicago following closely behind. Seattle’s construction boom is very real as the city is on track to have another record-breaking year for completed projects. Meanwhile, Chicago developers are on pace to deliver nearly 6,600 apartments in 33 different projects this year alone.”

    https://chicago.curbed.com/2017/5/24/15683778/chicago-population-density

    I guess I should be clearer about “hollowing out,” it’s not the downtown or adjacent areas, its more the residential areas nearer the city limits.

  • Guarneri

    PD –

    I think you make a good distinction. Just take Indianapolis. Carmel has always been Carmel. And Fishers is growing like a weed. But right downtown is going well, just like, say, Lincoln Park or The New East Side in Chicago, but peripheral to downtown areas are going to the dogs.

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