THE UNDERCLASS

By Dr. Frank Elwell

The Underclass

America has developed a unique and seemingly permanent underclass consisting of millions of people living in urban ghettos.

The Underclass

This underclass has a much higher proportion of minorities (particularly Black and Hispanic) than the rest of the population.

The Underclass

This underclass has much higher rates of poverty, unemployment, disease, crime, family breakdown, mental illness, drug abuse and many other forms of deviance.

The Underclass

They pay a higher proportion of their income for taxes but tend to be under served by government institutions (except prisons).

The Underclass

Since the 1970s, while the number of large-central-city whites living in poverty declined by 5%, the number of large-central-city blacks living in poverty increased by 21%.

The Underclass

Officially, the unemployment rate for black Americans (who are disproportionately represented in the underclass) is twice that of whites, around 12%.

The Underclass

Adding the hidden unemployed to the official rate raises the African American unemployment rate to 25% (compared to 12% for whites calculated on the same basis).

On the West Side of Chicago:

In the mid-1990s on the West side of Chicago (a neighborhood of the underclass:

On the West Side of Chicago:

In some neighborhoods as much as 60% of the housing is abandoned.

Much of the abandoned housing is used by pushers.

Average dropout rate in west side schools runs as high as 59%.

The Underclass

Many of the underclass choose violent crime as a solution to the chronic despair and envy that they must otherwise endure.

The Underclass

Unemployed inner city members of the underclass know from bitter experience that their life is a dead end.

The Underclass

The next question to be answered is why the underclass remain chronically unemployed?

The Underclass

During and after World War II Blacks migrated in unprecedented numbers from farms and cities in search of union-wage factory jobs.

The Underclass

This was scarcely a voluntary movement since it coincided with the end of the era of small farms and with the final stages of the industrialization of agriculture in the U.S.

The Underclass

It was precisely during this same period that the great shift from goods production to service and information production was taking place in America.

Manufacturing Jobs:

The Underclass

The result is a massive pile up of unemployed black workers inside the run-down core of the nationís largest cities.

The Underclass

Why wasnít this great army of unskilled workers called upon to take part in the explosive expansion of the new bureaucratic and service economy?

The Underclass

The growth of bureaucracy and service jobs coincides with the mass conversion of the reserve army of white housewives from baby production and services in the home to the production of services and information in the work place....

The Underclass

The fact that white women were preferred over black men in the only sector of the job market that has been expanding during the last forty years accounts for the uniquely grim prospects of the underclass in the U.S.

Women Enjoyed Advantages:

Women Enjoyed Advantages:

While white male employers may be prejudiced against hiring women, they are far more prejudiced against hiring Black men.

The Underclass

The links between socioeconomic inequalities and the level of violence in society has been demonstrated in numerous studies.

The Underclass

Despite recent declines, America still has far higher rates of violent crime (murder, rape, muggings, assault), than any other industrial society.

The Underclass

While America also has a far higher proportion of its population living as an underclass.

The Underclass

Racism and economic disadvantage cannot fully account for the disparity in crime rates between classes.

The Underclass

The nationís underclass are isolated in ghettos where members of the community are continually exposed to norms that encourage criminal behavior.

Family Disorganization

Still another factor that contributes to high rates of crime among the underclass is family disorganization, especially the rapid increase in the number of female-headed families among the underclass.

Family Disorganization

Such families lack male role models with legitimate jobs, leaving open the possibility that children will be influenced by others in the community.

The Underclass

It is the underclass that is also disproportionately involved in riots and civil unrest.

The Underclass

Unless we solve the problems of racism and classism in our society, none of us will be truly liberated.

The Underclass

Unless you consider living behind locked doors in fear of your life as a form of liberation.