Sunday, January 2, 2011

Work in Ward 6, a Developer's surprising answer

Nationwide, low- and medium-skilled jobs have disappeared, particularly from urban centers (see post 12/28). At the same time, highly skilled and highly paid individuals have moved into urban centers. The most wealthy census tract in Ward 6 has very high incomes and very low unemployment. The poorest census tract in Ward 6 has the lowest incomes and very high unemployment:

Poorest by income: Tract 71
Unemployment rate (%), 1980 11% (city average 6.8%)

Unemployment rate (%), 1990 13% (city average 7.2%)

Unemployment rate (%), 2000 17% (city average 11%)

Unemployment rate (%), 2005-09 20% (city average 9.2%)

Richest by Income: Tract 67
Unemployment rate (%), 1980 3.6% (city average 6.8%)

Unemployment rate (%), 1990 3.0% (city average 7.2%)

Unemployment rate (%), 2000 0.9% (city average 11%)

Unemployment rate (%), 2005-09 2.6% (city average 9.2%)

In future posts, I'll talk about sociologists' proposals for dealing with unemployment. Interestingly, today, the Post asked several experts, "What can Gray do for you?" Joe Sternlieb (a VP at EastBanc real estate development) gave a surprising answer for a developer:

Put people to work

The tools we've typically used to combat pockets of high unemployment in the District - job training, businesses subsidies, real estate development and local hiring requirements - will not create enough jobs (or the right ones) to get D.C.'s chronically unemployed residents working again. Your to-do list should include radically reforming how D.C. addresses joblessness.

Taking a page from the "Housing First" movement, which attacks homelessness by first giving people a place to live and then tackling the issues that made them homeless, you should launch an "Everybody Works" effort, with a goal to get every jobless person working - at any job - as a first step to addressing the issues that make it difficult for them to find or keep a job.

This doesn't mean putting everyone on the city payroll. It means reimagining work as a goal rather than a byproduct of economic growth. Start by giving every D.C. public high school student a work-study job, building skills and pride. Support experiments such as work cooperatives, in which jobless members contribute labor (from babysitting to home repair) in exchange for housing and other necessities while developing work histories and habits.

Full employment is the key to creating "One City." The way to get people working is to put them to work.

-- Joe Sternlieb

One person who wants a job and doesn't have one not only suffers personally but society also suffers. How can we create these jobs for everyone in Ward 6 (and elsewhere in DC and across the country)?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to spammers, I am restricting comments.