BACKGROUND ON INNER CITIES AND HARTFORD, CT
November 4, 1999
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON INNER CITIES A booming national economy,
coupled with the success of strong local efforts and the Clinton
Administration's community development agenda, has helped many cities
experience a strong fiscal and economic recovery. But while many inner
cities -- poor urban neighborhoods within larger central cities - have
seen economic gains, they still have not fully participated in the
economic prosperity and may face the challenges of population decline,
loss of middle-class families, slow job growth, income inequality, and
poverty. Furthermore, inner city neighborhoods often lag behind the
strong economies of the vibrant metropolitan areas in which they are
located and at the end of the 20th century there are still pockets of
poverty amidst the growing national economic prosperity.
THE GOOD NEWS FOR OUR NATION'S CITIES
Population increased in two-thirds of all central cities from
1980-1998. Immigrant families play a significant role in creating these
population increases, especially in gateway cities such as Los Angeles,
Miami, New York, and Seattle. (Department of Housing and Urban
Employment is on the rise in most central cities. The number of
employed residents living in central cities grew by 10.4 percent, or 3.7
million people, from 1992 to 1998. In the nation's fifty largest
cities, the drop in unemployment was larger in the central city than in
the suburbs. Just as important, in 77 large central cities, average
annual pay rose by 4.6 percent, compared with a 3.6 percent increase for
suburban jobs. Cities with dramatic declines in unemployment between
1992 and 1998 include: Detroit, MI (dropped from 16.9% to 7.2% during
this period); Atlanta, GA (10.0 % to 5.6%); Hartford, CT (12.6% to
6.7%); Newark (16.6% to 9.6%); and Santa Ana, CA (11.8% to 5.2%).
(Department of Housing and Urban Development, "State of the Cities,
Homeownership is increasing in central cities. For the first time in
history, more than half of central city households are homeowners.
Central city homeownership rates have increased from 48.9 percent at the
end of 1993 to 50.5 percent in the third quarter of 1999. This increase
in homeownership has been led by both African-American and Hispanic
families, whose homeownership rates have been increasing faster than the
rate for white families. (Department of Housing and Urban Development).
SOME CITIES STILL FACE CHALLENGES TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Not all cities are sharing in the prosperity. Some inner cities with
high unemployment rates in 1998 include: Madera, CA - 18.3%;
Brownsville, TX - 14.5%; Atlantic City, NJ - 13.4%; Yuma, AZ - 19.7;
North Chicago, IL - 10.2%; Flint,MI - 10.2%; Miami, FL - 9.3%; Newark -
9.6%; Hartford - 6.7%; and East St. Louis, IL - 9.8%. (Department of
Housing and Urban Development, "Places Left Behind.").
One in three central cities continues to lose population. Between
1980 and 1998, population declined 5% or more in 24.2% of the central
cities. Over half (57.3%) of these cities lost over 10% of their
population, despite the fact that the overall U.S. population grew by
19.3% during this period. These cities lost the workers and the
consumers to grow their economy, as well as the tax base needed to
protect the livability and strengthen the local business climate.
Shrinking cities tend to have higher rates of unemployment than cities
with a growing or stable population. (Department of Housing and Urban
Development, "State of the Cities, 1999").
Poverty has also improved, but remains too high. Poverty in central
cities declined from 21.5% to 18.5% between 1993 and 1998. However,
central city poverty remains significantly higher than the 12.7% poverty
rate nationally. Moreover, nearly one-in-three inner cities, 170 cities
total, had poverty rates of 20 percent or more in 1995. High poverty cities
in 1995 include: Washington, DC (21%); New Orleans, LA (34%); St. Louis, MO
(30%); Philadelphia, PA (24%); Richmond, VA (25%); and Miami, FL (43%).
(Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development). While the
strong economic growth in the past 4 years likely reduced poverty rates,
poverty is still too prevalent.
Poverty concentration and job mismatches. The outmigration of middle and
upper-middle income Americans has left behind concentrations of poor people
and has sapped once thriving areas of their economic vitality. Rapid
redevelopment outside of central cities has created a mismatch between
where many potential workers live and where jobs are located. This leads
to high joblessness in some pockets while jobs go unfilled in other parts
of the same other wise healthy metro areas. (Department of Housing and
Urban Development, "State of the Cities, 1999").
BACKGROUND ON HARTFORD
Hartford is the capital of the State of Connecticut and the core of a
metropolitan area with a population of over one million. The City of
Hartford has a long history as a thriving manufacturing center for
precision manufacturers producing such goods as firearms, typewriters,
bicycles and early automobiles. It later developed as a center for
defense-related industries and as the headquarters for many of our nation's
leading banks and insurance companies. As a result of the national
recession that occurred during 1989-1992, many of the companies located in
the region underwent an economic restructuring, resulting in a loss of
jobs, a decline in population, abandoned housing and a blighted and
underutilized downtown and commercial district. Key facts about Hartford
The population of Hartford, has declined slightly from 136,392 in 1980 to
an estimated 131,523 in 1998, a 3.6 percent drop. (Bureau of the Census).
The demographics of Hartford's population was 36.3% African-American,
31.0% Hispanic and 30.7% white (non-Hispanic) in 1990. (Bureau of the
The poverty rate, which increased from 27.5% in 1989 to 38.3% in 1993,
dropped to 35.2% in 1995. (Bureau of the Census).
The city's unemployment rate declined from 10.8% in 1993 to 6.7% in
1998. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the suburbs declined from
6.3% to 3.5% between 1993 and 1998. (Department of Housing and Urban
The city's per capita income was $32,035 compared to $25,288 for the
nation in 1997. (Bureau of the Census).
Retail sales were $1.4 billion in 1998. (Claritas).
Homeownership in Hartford was 66.2% in 1998, up from 58.7% in 1993,
and now roughly the same as the 66.3% in the nation. (Department of
Housing and Urban Development).
Hartford is home to more insurance companies than any other city in the
world. It serves as the headquarters for Aetna Life Insurance Company,
Travelers Insurance Company, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Phoenix
Home Life Mutual Insurance Company and Principal Mutual Life Insurance
Company. It is also considered the state's cultural center, featuring
its own symphony, ballet and opera companies, the Wadsworth Atheneum, --
the nation's oldest public art museum, and the Hartford Stage, a
Tony-award winning theatre company.