Home > How Do African Americans Rank in the City of Pittsburgh? Harold Miller, President of Future Strategies, LLC says it is a SHAME, Statistics outlining the Current State of Affairs Indicate African Americans Have the Highest Levels of Poverty in the Nation

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How Do African Americans Rank in the City of Pittsburgh? Harold Miller, President of Future Strategies, LLC says it is a SHAME, Statistics outlining the Current State of Affairs Indicate African Americans Have the Highest Levels of Poverty in the Nation. 

 
Harold Miller, President of Future Strategies, LLC updated PittsburghUrbanMedia this morning to say, "I did a quick look at the 2009 poverty numbers this morning, and Pittsburgh still ranked #1 for 18-64 African American poverty, but #2 for children under 5 (Cleveland moved into the #1 position).    The numbers inherently vary from year to year partly because they are based on a sample survey and partly because the African American population in Pittsburgh is very small compared to other areas, so it’s hard to make accurate estimates.  I based a number of the statements in that article on data averaged over 3 years (2006-2008) instead of just the 2008 data in order to avoid making statements that were true only because of random variation in a particular year, so that means that adding in the 2009 figures would be even less likely to change the results,So at any rate, I think it’s safe to say that the data in that article are reasonably indicative of the current state of affairs here. 
Everyone in Southwestern Pennsylvania should be embarrassed by the poor economic condition of African Americans in the region; it’s a significant stain on the region’s otherwise outstanding reputation for its high quality of life, and it’s a major impediment to the entire region’s ability to grow and succeed in an increasingly diverse world.  Moreover, the problem will not be solved unless everyone in the community – both whites and blacks – commit themselves to solving it, rather than trying to assign blame for it.  The white business and civic leaders in the community need to make the extra effort to help African Americans get the education and job opportunities they need to succeed, and the African American leaders in the community need to hold black children and adults accountable for taking advantage of the opportunities for education and jobs that do exist.”

 

 

 

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A #1 Ranking We Should Be Ashamed Of

 The Pittsburgh Region has received many accolades over the past year for its high quality of life and the resilience of its economy. But our community is also #1 in the nation on an issue that should be a source of shame, not pride.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pittsburgh Region has the highest rate of poverty among working-age African Americans of any of the 40 largest metropolitan regions in the country. More than 1/4 (28%) of the region’s African Americans aged 18-64 lived in poverty in 2008. That’s twice as high as in regions such as Baltimore and Charlotte.

If you think that African American poverty is just a City of Pittsburgh problem, you’re wrong; fewer than half (46%) of the poor African Americans in the region live in the City; 37% of them live in the rest of Allegheny County, and 17% live in other counties in the region. In fact, the highest rate of poverty among African Americans in the region isn’t in the City of Pittsburgh, it’s in Lawrence County, where almost half (49%) of the African American residents are poor.


Even more shocking is that the Pittsburgh Region is #1 in the country in the rate of poverty among African American children under age 5. Nearly 2/3 (62%) of these youngsters lived in poverty here in 2008, more than double the percentage in regions as diverse as Atlanta and Boston, and quadruple the poverty rate for white children under age 5 in the Pittsburgh Region (14.6%).

A key reason that so many African American children here are poor is that over 80% of African American women who have babies are unmarried (compared to only 26% of white mothers). This is the highest rate among any of the 40 largest metro regions. Families headed by unmarried women (regardless of race), particularly those with preschool children, are far more likely to be poor because of the difficulty of working or finishing school while raising a small child. In fact, the poverty rate for children under age 5 (of any race) living with single mothers is 10 times as high as for those living in two-parent families (61% vs. 6%). The fact that more than three times as many African American children as white children are born to single parents here is a major reason that they are four times as likely to be poor. The high rate of single parenthood is also likely one of the reasons why nearly 2/3 (64%) of poor African Americans in southwestern Pennsylvania are women, a higher proportion than in most regions.

Not surprisingly, a major cause of high rates of poverty is unemployment, and even before the recession started in the Pittsburgh Region, 38% of working-age African Americans were either unemployed or out of the labor force, the second highest rate among major regions (Detroit is #1). But even the African Americans who are employed are disproportionately working in lower-wage jobs; in the Pittsburgh Region, 20% of African Americans working in full time positions make less than $20,000 per year, compared to only 11% of whites.

These high rates of poverty, unemployment, and underemployment existed here in 2008, before the economic recession hit. It’s likely that they’re even worse now, and the slow recovery from the recession will make it particularly challenging to lower them.

What can you do to help change the Pittsburgh Region’s worst-in-the-nation status on this issue?

 


  • Demand that your school district improve the skills of African American children. Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests show that only 38% of the African American 11th graders in the region can read proficiently, and only 28% are proficient in math. Is it any wonder that young African Americans have trouble finding good jobs? This is not just a City of Pittsburgh problem; more than half of the non-proficient African American students in the region are in school districts outside of the City of Pittsburgh. For example, in suburban districts like Penn Hills and Gateway (Monroeville), only one-third of African American high school students were proficient in reading and math in 2009.


     
  • Support adequate, affordable public transit service to job centers. Census data show that over one-fourth (26%) of the African American workers in the Pittsburgh Region rely on public transportation to get to work. That’s the second highest proportion of any major region in the country (only New York is higher), and six times higher than the proportion of whites in our region who use public transit. Cutbacks in Port Authority transit service in Allegheny County and increased fares will likely have disproportionately negative impacts on the ability of African Americans to obtain and retain jobs.


     
  • Contribute to United Way programs that help lift African Americans out of poverty. The United Way agencies in the region have innovative and aggressive programs to prevent youth violence, help single mothers, and assist unemployed workers, but they need contributions from every citizen in the community to adequately support these efforts.

 


 

Harold D. Miller

Harold D. Miller is President of Future Strategies, LLC, a management and policy consulting firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also created and maintains PittsburghFuture.com, an internet resource on economic development strategy issues affecting the Pittsburgh Region, and he writes the monthly Regional Insights column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In addition, he serves as Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.

As part of his consulting practice, Miller has been working on a number of initiatives to improve the quality of health care services and to change the fundamental structure of health care payment systems in order to support improved quality. His work at the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) on how health care payment systems impede quality improvement was featured in Modern Healthcare magazine in December, 2007. In addition to his work with PRHI, he organized the Network for Regional Health Improvement's 2007 national Summit on health care payment reform, "Creating Payment Systems to Accelerate Value-Driven Health Care," and he served as the Facilitator for the Minnesota Health Care Transformation Task Force. His report Creating Payment Systems to Accelerate Value-Driven Health Care: Issues and Options for Policy Reform was published by the Commonwealth Fund in September, 2007. In November, 2007, he became the President and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) and the founding Executive Director of the national Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform.

Read More:   http://www.futurestrategies.org/haroldmiller.html

 

 

  

More about Harold D. Miller

Harold D. Miller is President of Future Strategies, LLC, a management and policy consulting firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also created and maintains PittsburghFuture.com, an internet resource on economic development strategy issues affecting the Pittsburgh Region, and he writes the monthly Regional Insights column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In addition, he serves as Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.

As part of his consulting practice, Miller has been working on a number of initiatives to improve the quality of health care services and to change the fundamental structure of health care payment systems in order to support improved quality. His work at the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) on how health care payment systems impede quality improvement was featured in Modern Healthcare magazine in December, 2007. In addition to his work with PRHI, he organized the Network for Regional Health Improvement's 2007 national Summit on health care payment reform, "Creating Payment Systems to Accelerate Value-Driven Health Care," and he served as the Facilitator for the Minnesota Health Care Transformation Task Force. His report Creating Payment Systems to Accelerate Value-Driven Health Care: Issues and Options for Policy Reform was published by the Commonwealth Fund in September, 2007. In November, 2007, he became the President and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) and the founding Executive Director of the national Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform.

 

Read More About Harold Miller: http://www.futurestrategies.org/haroldmiller.html

 

 

 

 

 

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