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Wilson, William Julius. WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.: New York, 1996.

From Subject
"Laura Long" <lllong@ilstu.edu> Review of William Julius Wilson (Long)
Edmund Stuhr <epstuhr@YAHOO.COM> REV:When Work Disappears(STUHR)
Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU> Review: WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS (Skrodal)
Justin Michael Almli <jmalmli@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Response; When Work Disappears, (Almli)
Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@ILSTU.EDU> Re: response; When Work Disappears
"Alison M. Navarrete" <amnavar@ILSTU.EDU> Response: When Work Disappears
Ryan Snyder <rwsnyde@ODIN.CMP.ILSTU.EDU> Re: When work disappears
Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@ILSTU.EDU> Review; When Work Disappears, (Taverna)
Ryan Snyder <rwsnyde@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu> Re: When work disappears

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 14:09:47 -0500 
From: "Laura Long" <lllong@ilstu.edu> (by way of gmklass@ilstu.edu (Gary Klass)) 
Subject: Review of William Julius Wilson (Long) 

Review of William Julius Wilson, THE TRULY DISADVANTAGED
Reviewed by Laura Long, lllong@ilstu.edu
Illinois State University

When was the last time you were in a ghetto? The answer for
most of us is probably a resounding "Never!" The closest contact
the majority of us have with the urban underclass occurs when we
make a wrong turn into East St. Louis or the like. Even then, we
don't stop to browse. In THE TRULY DISADVANTAGED, William Julius
Wilson makes the case that this increasing "social isolation" of
the poor, especially the black poor, has greatly contributed to
their poverty. "Out of sight, out of mind" allows most of us to
either deny or forget the conditions in the ghetto. Ironically, we
expect the poor to live just like us while at the same time cutting
them off from the examples and institutions necessary for them to
do so.

Wilson does not simply lay all the black poor's
problems at the feet of racism and walk away. He also makes a
thoughtful distinction between historic racism and current racism.
While current racism undoubtedly contributes to poverty, in
Wilson's view, the lingering effect of historical racism is the
real culprit. Blacks have historically been relegated to low skill
jobs through discrimination in education and employment practices.
With the mechanization of Southern agriculture, such low skill jobs
were to be found mostly in the industrial centers of the Northeast.
Now that industries are abandoning cities for suburbs and even
other countries, many blacks are stranded in the cities and have
neither job opportunities nor the money to leave the city to go
where the jobs are. The resulting unemployment has created an
environment filled with crime, poverty, and has contributed to the
breakdown in the two parent family in that black women have a hard
time finding someone to marry because so many black males are in
jail or unemployed.

Nor has the civil rights movement done much to address the
concerns of poor blacks. Both the individual opportunity programs
of the 1960s and the race based programs of the 1970s and 1980s had
a disproportionate effect on the black upper and middle classes.
The early civil rights movement focused on removing barriers for
equal participation and competition by blacks. But, as Wilson
points out, inequalities remain after bias is diminished. While
desegregation allowed blacks to move into white suburbs, only
wealthy blacks could actually afford a house there. Race based
programs aimed at remedying past injustices, like affirmative
action, are also often only relevant to wealthier blacks. Poor
blacks are less likely to apply for college, so they do not
directly benefit from equal opportunity in higher education

Worse than simply ignoring the special problems of poor
blacks, civil rights programs exacerbated poor blacks' problems by
providing avenues of escape for better off blacks. Urban black
communities were left without this class of "social buffers" who
comprised the main support for institutions like churches and
schools and who provided role models for poor and wealthy black
children alike. Today, poor black children are less likely to know
two-parent families or people who have steady work. The link
between hard work and success is not made. As Cornel West has
said, without these buffers, poor children are left at the mercy of
a consumption-oriented society. Movies and television are quick to
show the glamour of the rich, but they fail to show the hard work
which accompanies becoming, say, a doctor.

Wilson is correct in attributing much of black poverty to
isolation. Where are teenagers going to get work if the only
business in the neighborhood is the corner drug dealer? But he
writes off the negative effects of welfare benefits on poverty too
quickly. In criticizing Charles Murray's thesis that welfare
benefits have actually contributed to the decline in the family
because they make it economically more attractive to have children
out of wedlock, Wilson points to studies which have found only a
modest relationship between welfare benefits and decisions about
separation, divorce, and out of wedlock babies. These findings are
not surprising considering that Wilson admits there is little
incentive to stop poor teenagers from getting pregnant to begin
with. Wilson quotes Kenneth Clark as saying "In lower-class
families...the girl loses only some of her already limited options
by having an illegitimate child; she is not going to make a 'better
marriage' or improve her economic and social status either way."
(p. 74) It is not so much that teenage girls think they can rely
on AFDC benefits as that they seem themselves as living in poverty
whether they have a child or not, so why not have the child?

But the same studies also found welfare benefits had a
substantial impact on living arrangements. Most welfare benefits
are so arranged that it is more profitable for a teenage mother to
live alone than with her own family. And as Wilson mentions,
teenage daughters of single mothers are less likely to get pregnant
if grandparents reside in the home. To address this problem,
Illinois Governor Jim Edgar recently proposed a new law which would
require most pregnant women under 18 years of age to live with
their parents in order to receive AFDC benefits. So while welfare
may not directly influence teenagers to get pregnant, it helps to
create situations in which the family stability necessary for
proper parental, or in this case, grandparental oversight and care
is lacking.

While Wilson's analysis of the problem is generally thoughtful
and well-reasoned, most of his solutions to poverty are just too
pat. He correctly wants to provide the poor, of all races, with
the resources necessary to compete for jobs, what Wilson calls
"equality of life chances." But part of his solution is to create
a national strategy to make the workforce more adaptable to change.
This emphasis on job training and flexibility does not generate new
jobs, it just creates well-trained people who still live in
poverty. He does call for the creation of more jobs as part of a
federal government macroeconomic policy which strives for a tight
labor market and noninflationary economic growth. Of course the
government is always trying to avoid unemployment and inflation,
but often the two goals are incompatible. The Federal Reserve
Board's current tight economic policy is committed to preventing
inflationary growth even at the risk of increasing unemployment.
It is just too simplistic to say that if there were
enough jobs for everyone, poverty could be eradicated.

A more specific aspect of Wilson's plan is his call for
universal benefits, such as child care and medical care. These
benefits would apply to all economic levels but would have their
strongest impact on the poor of all races, who do not already have
things like adequate medical care. Universal benefits would level
playing field so that everyone would have equal resources to
compete. Wilson suggests universal benefits rather than benefits
targeted to the poor in order to get widespread support for such

But universalizing the benefits would not necessarily
significantly reduce opposition to them. Today in the United
States, there is already a debate raging over paying the wealthy
their Social Security benefits, despite the fact they presumably
contributed that money to the fund to begin with. Wilson also
wants to shrink the deficit to adjust the value of the American
dollar. The societal costs of our current poverty rate are very
high, but wouldn't the imposition of universal benefits make
shrinking the deficit even harder? Wilson uses Sweden as an
example of a country's successful implementation of universal child
care and family allowance programs. But Sweden is now facing great
difficulties in paying for these same programs.

Wilson deserves much praise for his ability to recognize that
poverty comes in all colors, and that we as a society have
abandoned the poor. But universal benefits and job training would
not necessarily bridge the gulf between rich and poor. Wilson
would give the poor more money, but it probably would not be enough
to allow them to buy a house outside of the ghetto or lure
businesses in. One of Wilson's better suggestions is to promote
geographic, and thus social, mobility of the poor. Scattered site
housing instead of concentrated public housing would allow the poor
to live in an environment where people work and where jobs exist;
poorer families would have a better chance of getting a good
education and tapping into the job network. And while getting
money to the poor is important, so is ending their isolation.
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which go into the ghetto,
try to get to know the poor as individuals rather than "the poor."
Actually knowing people in the ghetto can mean the formation of
community ties and feelings of mutual responsibility. An urban
peace corps such as President Clinton has proposed might be a step
in the right direction. A sense of community should be the goal
not just for rich and poor but for all of our fragmenting society.
  Back to top...

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 18:35:12 -0700 
From: Edmund Stuhr <epstuhr@YAHOO.COM> 
Subject: REV:When Work Disappears(STUHR) 

Edmund P. Stuhr
Review of "When Work Disappears" Wilson

Work is a word that has a long and distinct history. Everything
around us is related to work. The clothes we wear to the food we eat
are all related to work. Everything you own has to do with work. All
of the luxuries you have earned is because of hard work. So what
happens when all of the work is lost? What happens to the fancy car
you have when you don’t have a job anymore? What happens to the food
on the table when you get canned because the company is downsizing?
What happens to your wife and children when you can’t buy new clothes
for them to wear? Without work is like having no reason to live
anymore. These are problems that millions of Americans face everyday,
the struggle just to keep their heads over water. The start to answer
these problems is finding out why people don’t have jobs and why the
jobs just aren’t where they used to be. William Julius Wilson, a
professor at the University of Chicago, analyzes this problem and
tries to explain why it is happening.

The area that seems to be affected the most by this problem is in the
inner-city of Chicago. Chicago is know as a blue collar working town
in the middle of the heartland. Many industries and manufacturers
based their production warehouses out of Chicago. The problem with
Chicago is that many of these industrial warehouses have moved out of
the city and into the suburbs. The question is why have these
corporations moved from the city into the suburbs? There are many
factors that have lead to this.

One factor is that there is much more space and cheaper land in the
suburbs. With many of these warehouses in the city being very old,
corporations needed to renovate or build new warehouses. Most
corporations decided to build new facilities, and could do so in the
suburbs because of the cheaper prices. These moves from city to
suburb affected many of the working class families who lived in the
city. This left many men out of jobs. These were men with families
to provide for and also had little to no education. As these
companies were moving to the suburbs so were the jobs and so were the
neighborhoods. These big corporate warehouses were the foundations
for many Chicago neighborhoods. Because of the warehouses people were
working and making money. The economy works in the fashion if people
make money, people will spend money and then people will make more
money because people are spending what they are making. It is a very
simple but delicate system and once the system is shaken, the
penalties are critical. Many of these once lavish inner-city
neighborhoods lost not only jobs but was also losing neighbors.

Recent statistics showed that in Woodlawn, a neighborhood in Chicago,
the population in 1960 was over 80,000 people; in 1970 it was 53,814;
in 1980 it dropped to 36,323 and it hit rock bottom at 24,473 in 1990.
The reason for the decline was because of the companies moving their
warehouses to the suburbs.

As people are moving out of these neighborhoods so are the little ma
and pa shops that once ran the neighborhoods. Many food markets and
clothing stores have been replaced by liquor stores and pawn shops.
The reason is because people don’t have the money to keep these old
style stores in business anymore. The owners of these family owned
shops are now unemployed so they now don’t have money to support
themselves. As this problem worsens so does the family structure of
the inner-city. With the lack of jobs and the high rate of
unemployment, the most common type of family is the kind the is headed
up by the mother and has no father. With many men out of work, the
family atmosphere that was once prominent is now a thing of the past.
The lack of jobs is almost an invitation for men to leave their needy
families. With the men not in the house anymore that means that the
mother is the prime source of income. The problem is that many of
these women have numerous children who need to be looked after
everyday. So where do they get the money to support themselves?
Welfare is the only source of income these women have. Many people
criticize this because the people who have jobs and are not on welfare
feel that if these mothers don’t even try to get a job the welfare
system in our country will get worse and taxes will continue to
increase. That is a valid gripe but the issue that these women are
facing is the fact that with their commitment to watch their children
when do they have time to have a job? The other factor that is
hurting these women is that there are no jobs to obtain in these
neighborhoods. Many women do have the ambition to work and get off of
welfare, but they don’t have the chance to do so because all of the
jobs are in the suburbs. Many women were interviewed who lived in the
city and had jobs in the suburbs and the common response was that
having the job was great but they didn’t make any money because of
commuting costs. Commuting costs for these women are different than
commuting costs for your common commuter. First and foremost they
have to pay traveling costs, either mass transportation or the cost to
run and keep up a car. The cost that is the killer is for either a
baby-sitter or day care. That is why inner-city mothers who commute
don’t make any money. The incentive for these women is to not get a
job and stay on welfare.

The statistics and information show that it is one large snowball
affect. With the companies moving to the suburbs there is a loss of
jobs in the inner-city. With many of these men losing their jobs
comes the effort to find a new job. The problem is that many of these
men don’t have a good education and therefore can’t find another job.
So what do they do? They skip town and leave the mother to do
everything. The mother then has to go on welfare because they can’t
get a job and take care of their children at the same time. Many
people agree with this statement, but what people don’t agree with is
that Wilson believes that it is not because of class status rather
than race why this is happening. He is saying that companies are
moving into the suburbs not because there are too many black that live
in the city. He is saying because of the lack of education and family
atmosphere is the reason why these jobs have migrated to the suburbs.
I agree with him completely. I feel that Wilson has a great beginning
to the problem. Majority of the society blames racism and segregation
for the hardships they have endured. This is true but people don’t
take into account that in some instances the conditions that people
are in is because they did it themselves rather than society doing it
for them.

So what is the solution for all of these problems? In the short run
we have to get people’s attention and make them aware of these
problems. The only way to get this support is to create attention for
the problems at hand. Once this is accomplished he feels that the
long term goals are simple. What we have to do is increase the
quality of education in these areas and have the government not cut
back on so many programs. If we increase education levels in the
inner-city these people will be able to get and keep good jobs. As
the people in these areas are better educated, the quality of jobs in
these areas will also increase. As these people will have better jobs
they will be able to keep the family structure strong and intact.
Why does this sound so easy but yet will be so difficult. Because
that is the reality of the whole situation. I believe that as a
society we can combat this problem but we all have to stick together.
It will not only require those who need the help to pitch in, but it
will require people who live in the suburbs to help as well. We need
to stop putting walls between social classes and break down the walls
that exist. I guess the best way to accomplish a snowball affect is
to start another snowball in the other direction.
   Back to top...

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 22:20:29 -0500 
From: Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Review: WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS (Skrodal) 

Wilson, William Julius. WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.: New
York, 1996.

Reviewed by: Danielle Skrodal
E-mail: dcskrod@ilstu.edu

Everyone in the United States is concerned with the job market and the
availability of jobs to keep our country moving. Take a second and imagine
what it would be like to have jobs disappear from you and having slim
chances of finding another one. In WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS, William Julius
Wilson argues that this is what has happened to the blacks in the
inner-city ghettos.

Wilson powerfully writes of the effects that the disappearance of work
has had on residents of the ghettos. He does this with statistical and
survey information. Some of the factors that he says contribute to the
joblessness and deterioration in the ghetto are suburbanization of jobs,
poor social organizations and lack of funds from the federal government.

The suburb movement is one of Wilson's major arguments. In Woodlawn,
a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, there were over 800 commercial
and industrial establishments in 1950. These days it is estimated that
there are only about 100 left. More and more new jobs and industries are
popping up in the suburbs of Chicago. Wilson says, "Over the last two
decades, 60 percent of the new jobs created in the Chicago metropolitan
area have been located in the northwest suburbs of Cook and DuPage
counties." Blacks make up about 2% of the population in these areas of the

Wilson also describes what happened to another neighborhood of
Chicago, North Lawndale, because of the move to the suburbs. The Hawthorne
plant of Western Electric and an International Harvester plant, which
employed 43,000 and 14,000 respectively, have both moved out. The
headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Company, which employed 10,000, has also
relocated. Many in the area have lost their jobs because of this exodus.
Wilson says also because of these companies moving out the neighborhood has
deteriorated. "North Lawndale resembles a war zone," he added.

Granted there are many jobs available in the suburbs, but often times
many ghetto residents have a hard time getting out to the suburbs. Wilson
says that only 18% of people living in the ghetto have access to an
automobile. Some may suggest public transportation instead, but many
ghetto residents find that the expense is too great. A 36- year-old
unemployed man from the West Side of Chicago said, "It was more expensive
going to work in Naperville, transportation and all, and it wasn't worth
it. I was spending more money getting to work than I earned working."

Another issue Wilson confronts is the poor social organizations of the
black ghetto. For the sake of social organizations, Wilson compared the
blacks in the inner city to the Mexicans in the inner city. Mexicans tend
to have a much higher level of social organization than the blacks of the
inner city do. Mexicans that live in these areas are usually surrounded by
small businesses owned by fellow Mexicans.

The two groups vary also in the area of traditional married couple
families. Only one-quarter of black families that have children and live
in the inner city neighborhoods of Chicago are husband-wife families.
Three-quarters of Mexican families in the same situation are husband-wife
families. This is a very substantial difference.

There is a great cultural difference in the views of marriage between
the blacks and the Mexicans of the inner city. The out of wedlock birth
rate for African Americans soared above 50% in the 1980s. Wilson points
out a startling fact that black women head 31% of poor households, those
living below the poverty line. Wilson says this is startling because
African Americans make up only 12% of the United States population. "Inner
city black women routinely say that they distrust men and feel strongly
that black men lack dedication to their families," Wilson said. Many black
men in the ghetto feel that marriage means they have to give up their life.
One 21-year-old West Side man said, "Marriage. You can't have it, you
can't do the things you wanna do then."

Another issue that Wilson touches on is the lack of funding the inner
cities receives from the federal government. Wilson says that since the
1980s the government has cut back aid to the cities. He mainly blames the
Reagan and Bush administration. He said the administration's "sharply cut
spending on direct aid to cities, including general revenue sharing, urban
mass transit, public service jobs and job training, local public works, and
urban development action grants." He added that the federal government in
1980 contributed 18% to city budgets. In 1990, the percentage had dropped
to 6%. These are very disturbing figures. No wonder many of the inner
cities have become so deteriorated. Wilson thinks the federal government
needs to increase the amount to help combat the joblessness that plagues
the inner city.

The cities are also being left out politically because of
suburbanization. Wilson thinks that we can attribute the decline in
funding to cities to the influence of "electoral coalitions in the
suburbs." In 1988, 48% of the vote in the presidential election was cast
from the suburbs. That percentage would become a majority in the 1992
presidential election. These are interesting statistics, but he never
really explains how the presidential vote really effects funding to the
inner cities. I think the local, state and congressional representatives
would be a better indicator to argue this point.

A significant and important part of the book is when Wilson discusses
the employer's views of inner city workers. The views were based on
interviews with 179 firms that provide entry-level jobs in Chicago and Cook
County. Wilson writes, "The Urban Poverty and Family Life Study's survey
of a representative sample of Chicago area employers indicated that many
consider inner-city workers - especially young black males - to be
uneducated, unstable, uncooperative, and dishonest." One-half of the
employers said there was gender differences in inner city workers, so many
prefer to hire black females.

Many of the employers had stereotypical views of a worker's racial
background. One personnel manager of a suburban bakery said, "We have some
problems with blacks. I find that the blacks aren't as hard workers as the
Hispanics and or the Italian or whatever. The black kind of has a,
you-owe-me kind of an attitude." I found this interesting that people
still think this way, especially an employer.

One might think that a black employer might not have such harsh views
of black inner city workers. Wilson proves that very wrong through his
survey. He found that 80% of black employers expressed negative views
about inner city workers. This contrasts with only 74% of white employers
that did the same thing. I found this fact very significant and
interesting. I would have thought the black employers would not say so
many negative things. One black employer stated how he felt about the
inner city black's work ethic, "Attitude. Poor attitude. I'm very vocal
on that. They lazy, a lot of them."

Near the end, Wilson outlines his own agenda for what can be done to
help the jobless ghetto residents in a chapter appropriately entitled "A
Broader Vision". He states, "My framework for long-term solutions outlines
two types of relationships in an effort to address the growing wage
inequality among workers namely, the relationship between employment and
education and family support systems and, in the metropolitan context, the
relationship between the cities and the suburbs." He says we can
accomplish goals by revising current programs or creating new ones.

Creating national performance standards for every public school in the
United States is one place to start, according to Wilson. In attempting
this, Wilson cautions that we need to address the inequalities in the
allocation of funds from the government. This would allow the poor
neighborhood schools to get more money and enjoy as many resources, such as
computers, as wealthy suburban schools do. He would also like to ensure
that highly qualified teachers be distributed equally also.

Another step in Wilson's plan is to restore federal contributions to
city budgets and to increase the employment base. The extra money to
cities would help them to overcome their financial difficulties. Wilson
thinks that an increased employment base would help stabilize poverty
neighborhoods and help race relations in urban areas.

Another proposal Wilson makes was taken from Mickey Kaus, a journalist
for The New Republic. Kaus based his idea on the Works Progress
Administration (WPA), which was conceived by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935.
"The program would provide useful public jobs at wages slightly below the
minimum wage." Kaus feels this type of program would eliminate the need
for welfare. This would also allow low-skilled workers a chance for
employment. The drawback of the type of program is that it would not be
cheap. Wilson says, "Including the costs of supervisors and materials, it
is estimated that each subminimum wage job WPA-style job would cost at
least $12,000. That would represent $12 billion for every 1 million jobs

I really admire William Julius Wilson's effort in this book. When you
read it, you can tell he genuinely cares about the subject. The end of the
book where he outlines goals to help the jobless ghetto residents is when
his dedication really shines through. I felt he brought a lot of useful
information to the forefront. Now, hopefully the politicians can work with
it. He uses many informative statistics from research that he was a part
of. The only complaint I have is that sometimes the statistics became
overbearing. Otherwise, I learned a lot from this book and highly
recommend to anyone interested in the subject.

Danielle Skrodal
dcskrod@ilstu.edu Back to top...

Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 19:40:39 -0500 
From: Justin Michael Almli <jmalmli@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Re: Response; When Work Disappears, (Almli) 

There is a direct link between poverty and unemployment. This is a
capatilist society that expects everyone to produce. With the
development of multinational corporations and the need for highly skilled
workers employment has been almost destroyed in the inner city. It has
especially wrecked havoc on the black community.
The gaeustraux program is being used to relocate people from the
inner city to the suburbs where it will be easier to find a job. So far
this has proved successful. But even most low level jobs in the suburbs
still keep people in some sort of poverty. In my view the most cost
effective way to get out of poverty is an education. With this you can
market yourself to get a middle class job. Government programs are
expensive and take a long time, so todays generation should not wait on
these for help. If a kid can realize that by educating himself he will
eventually get out of poverty. But, with the divorce rate and single
parent families percentages being so high, this makes it difficult. As a
community we have to try. Back to top...

Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 13:53:08 -0500 
From: Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Re: response; When Work Disappears 

I also agree that an education is the key to making it in this country.
Without an education today, you are not going to get very far. Government
programs may work in the short-run, but they are using the taxpayers money
and are not able to achieve anything in the long run. Programs that
relocate inner-city individuals to the suburbs don't necessarily guarantee
jobs that will keep a person above the poverty level. These people may
just turn to crime and drugs in the suburbs as well. I think that the
government should give people the option of helping them get a better
education so that they can get a better job instead of just throwing them
into an endless circle of jobs that go nowhere. Above and beyond
receiving the chance to get an education, these individuals have to have
the desire and motivation to change their lives. They have to be willing
to do all it takes to make it in this world today. Back to top...

Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 01:34:08 +0000 
From: "Alison M. Navarrete" <amnavar@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Response: When Work Disappears 

Just by moving one group of people into the suburbs will not help the
problem of the vanishing jobs. How many people can agree with the money we
throw away for parking, riding the train or taking a bus to work, can be
very expensive. Then does it make sense that people who live in the poorer
areas of the cities throw more money down, that they do not have, on
commuting to work? I think not. They spend all this money on jobs that are
not going anywhere. More importantly, I think the problem is with these
people's skills. I am not blaming them for not having better jobs within
the cities, but I think we all need to wake up. Wilson makes a good point
about improving the education within these areas of the cities where
businesses have packed up and left for the suburbs. Maybe if these people
had something to lean back on, maybe they would have better jobs. A good
education is so important for anyone. Why are we not helping these people
yet? I think we sometimes take advantage of our own education and do not
realize that these people are being punished for not getting what they
deserve. Our government should improve their programs for skills training
and maybe then, those people can return to their community. Back to top...

Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 10:13:09 -0500 
From: Ryan Snyder <rwsnyde@ODIN.CMP.ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Re: When work disappears 

I agree that moving one group of people into the suburbs will not solve
the problem of vanishing jobs. I believe that this is simply a shortcut
and not a solution. We are ignoring the real problem and that is the
education within the inner-city. Instead of moving a group of people to
the suburbs, I suggest that we concentrate on improving the education. We
need to concentrate on improving people's skills in order for them to get
decent jobs. This, of course, begins with education. If we look at the
inner-city youth, we would find that they are well on their way to poverty
and welfare. However, it's not too late to change their paths. It is our
obligation to educate the youth to the best of our abilities so that they
can have the same opportunity as everyone else in finding employment.
Education is the only way in which we're going to improve the inner-city,
not by moving a group of people to the suburbs. The reason why jobs are
vanishing in the inner-city is that they cannot find people with the skills
needed to compete in the marketplace. They are forced to look elsewhere in
order for them to find people with these skills. Let's not look at
creating a shortcut, let's actually examine the real problem and solve it.
Let's look at the education of the inner-city and solve it before it is
actually too late. Back to top...

Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 16:17:13 -0500 
From: Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Review; When Work Disappears, (Taverna) 

When Work Disappears, By William Julius Wilson

Date: April 20, 1998

Everyone agrees that a neighborhood with high poverty levels can
lead to devastating consequences, but neighborhoods with high levels of
joblessness are even worse. Most of the individuals who reside in
inner-city ghetto neighborhoods do not work. William Julius Wilson argues
in his book that the unavailability of jobs affects the individuals,
families, neighborhoods, and the social life of the entire city. He
discusses broadly the causes of the underclass in these neighborhoods, and
what we can do to decrease joblessness among these underclass.

The first major cause of the underclass is economic and industrial
restructuring. There was a massive decline in manufacturing jobs. Many
of these jobs were held by men with little education, and when these jobs
disappeared, they were left with nothing. Even though there was an
increase in the social services industries, these jobs usually hired

The labor market no longer needed low-skilled workers. It shifted to a
need for individuals with a higher education. According to Wilson, urban
Blacks seemed to be hit the hardest by industrial restructuring.

Not only has industrial restructuring increased joblessness, but
the suburbanization of employment has also restricted access to jobs for
inner-city individuals. Many low-skill manufacturing jobs have moved to
the suburbs because the land is cheaper, and there are low crime rates.
Although this movement may be good for the companies, it makes it even
more difficult for inner-city individuals to get a job. The study of the
Gautreaux Program in Chicago examined whether there was an employment gap
between the city and the suburbs. The program relocated more than 4000
residents from public housing into subsidized housing in Chicago suburbs.
It then contrasted the experiences of low-income blacks in the suburbs
with those of a control group in the city.

The Gautreaux Program proved that it was much easier to find a job
in the suburbs than in the city. The problem with this is that it is
extremely difficult for inner-city individuals to get to suburban jobs.
Almost all of them do not have access to an automobile, and public
transportation is expensive and does not provide quick access to the
suburbs. Commuting to the suburbs is not worth it to many inner-city
individuals. Most of the time they end up spending more than they get

Another factor believed to be associated with the underclass is
the role of the family. The disappearance of the traditional family has
joined the disappearance of jobs in the inner-city. Gone are the two
parent families, only to be replaced by mothers who had children out of
wedlock and often rely on welfare as their source of income. Wilson
states that "in addition to the strong links between single parenthood and
poverty and welfare receipt, the available research indicates that
children from mother-only households are more likely to be school
dropouts, to receive lower earnings in young adulthood, and to be
recipients of welfare" (92).

Many Black inner-city women believe that Black men are not
marriage material and that they use women for sex and money. Instead of
getting married, they tend to use the welfare system instead of working so
that they are able to care for their children. The negative outlooks
about marriage in the inner-city has "increased out-of-wedlock births,
weakened the family structure, expanded the welfare rolls, and as a
result, caused poor inner-city Blacks to be even more disconnected from
the job market and discouraged about their role in the labor force" (106).

The other cause of the underclass in the inner-city is the
perception that employers have about inner-city individuals. Wilson
conducted interviews with many employers in the city of Chicago. He found
that most all of the employers had problems with African American
inner-city employees. They were thought to be lazy, undependable,
dishonest, and have bad attitudes and communication skills. If employers
had to choose between a female and male African American, they wold most
often choose the female because they are more responsible and have better

Many employers engage in recruitment practices which automatically
eliminate the number of inner-city applicants who can apply for jobs.
They would avoid placing ads in Chicago newspapers, and they choose
applicants from schools other than Chicago public schools. Wilson says
that these practices do not have to do so much with race, but rather with
the need for workers who can relate to the consumer. "The issue of race
in the labor market cannot simply be reduced to the presence of
discrimination" (144).

What can be done about joblessness and the underclass? Wilson
presents some long-term solutions and some immediate solutions. The
long-term solutions address the relationship between employment and
education and family support. Wilson says that we need to establish a
system of national performance standards for all public schools in the
country. This will help alleviate the differences in education between
schools in advantaged and disadvantaged neighborhoods. As it is right
now, the schools in disadvantaged communities do not have enough money for
well-equipped classes and well-trained teachers. In 1994, Congress passed
the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. This act encourages states to apply
for grants so that schools can improve education. It is a step in the
right direction, but it is not mandatory, and there is not enough money.

Family policies can also be used to strengthen the learning
system. Our country needs preschool and childsupport programs so that
families are able to prepare their children for school. If we were able
to combine national performance standards in schools with family policies
we could make the transition from school to work a lot easier. As it is
right now, "the focus of U.S. secondary schools and counseling programs is
to encourage young people to enter college and obtain a degree. But high
school graduates who are not college-bound represent nearly one-half of
each graduating class" (216).

Wilson also discusses some immediate solutions to the problem of
joblessness. These include revising current programs or creating new
programs. Recent programs such as the enactment of an expansion of the
earned income tax credit make certain low-paying jobs look more
attractive. This benefit, combined with universal health care can also
remove mothers from welfare. Wilson says that expansion of the EITC and
the creation of universal health care should be at the top of the
political agenda.

Another problem that needs attention is our weak transportation
system and the location of jobs. Public transportation needs to be
improved so that inner-city residents can get to the suburbs where the
jobs are. We could create inexpensive car-pool networks to bring people
from the city to the suburbs. Creating for-profit and not-for-profit job
information and placement centers in the city will improve awareness of
jobs that are available in the metropolitan area. Some of these solutions
should be able to help the problem of joblessness in the inner-city.

Wilson's book opened my eyes to a whole other world. The problem
of job disappearance in the inner-city only seems to be getting worse
instead of better. Wilson seems to believe that the problem of
joblessness continues because of outside factors. These being the
government, employers, and other members of society. I feel that it is a
combination of personal and public influences. Although Wilson did talk
about crime, drugs, and people on welfare, I do not think that he focused
on it enough. The tendency for a poor person to lean toward a life of
crime or drug-dealing is a lot more appealing than working for minimum
wage everyday. Drug dealers make a lot of money, and they make it
quickly. Also, people who are on welfare tend to stay on welfare rather
than look for a job because they can make more money to support their

On the other side, there are the employers who hinder the chances
of an inner-city individual getting a job. There are also a lot of
inner-city individuals who do want to make a better life for themselves.
Wilson says that these employers are not necessarily being racist, but
instead they are discriminating against class. I do not completely agree
with this. It was blatantly obvious that the employers were against
African American workers as opposed to Mexican, White, or Asian workers
who are just as poor. They would avoid putting ads in newspapers that
were read by inner-city African Americans, and they threw away
applications with addresses of "bad" areas.

All of Wilson's solutions to help decrease joblessness in the
inner-city sounded very beneficial. The problemm is that they are going
to take a lot of time and money to implement and then see results. I
think that if an inner-city individual has a strong work ethic and a
strong desire to better him or herself, the most important step has
already been achieved. Where there is a will, there is a way

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Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 10:05:16 -0500 
From: Ryan Snyder <rwsnyde@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu> 
Subject: Re: When work disappears 

I agree that moving one group of people into the suburbs will not solve the problem of vanishing jobs. I believe that this is simply a shortcut and not a solution. We are ignoring the real problem and that is the education within the inner-city. Instead of moving a group of people to the suburbs, I suggest that we concentrate on improving the education. We need to concentrate on improving people's skills in order for them to get decent jobs. This, of course, begins with education. If we look at the inner-city youth, we would find that they are well on their way to poverty and welfare. However, it's not too late to change their paths. It is our obligation to educate the youth to the best of our abilities so that they can have the same opportunity as everyone else in finding employment. Education is the only way in which we're going to improve the inner-city, not by moving a group of people to the suburbs. The reason why jobs are vanishing in the inner-city is that they cannot find people with the skills needed to compete in the marketplace. They are forced to look elsewhere in order for them to find people with these skills. Let's not look at creating a shortcut, let's actually examine the real problem and solve it. Let's look at the education of the inner-city and solve it before it is actually too late.

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