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HUD No. 99-225
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeNovember 4, 1999


President Clinton today released a report that says most communities and families in the Northeast are prospering in America's booming economy, but some pockets of poverty remain - particularly in small and mid-size cities that have suffered job losses when factories and other major employers closed up shop.

The report, prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, examines the economies of communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. It is a special supplement to an earlier HUD report titled Now Is The Time: Places Left Behind in the New Economy.

"Our strong economy has helped millions of families build better lives with good jobs, higher earnings, and homes of their own," the President said. "The challenge now is to work in partnership with businesses and communities to create new markets that will make our economy even stronger, so that people and places left behind can become full participants in America's prosperity. HUD's new report provides valuable information that will help us meet this challenge. "

President Clinton released the new report during his New Markets Initiative trip today to Newark, NJ and Hartford, CT. The President will visit Hermitage, AR and Chicago as part of the trip on Friday. The trip is designed to focus public attention and spark increased business investment to jump-start the economies of communities left behind.

HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo said: "This report shows there are really two economies in the Northeast today - one on a superhighway to prosperity and growth, the other stuck in the slow lane. Government alone can't solve this problem, but government can provide incentives that will attract business investment to get the job done."

In his 1999 State of the Union Address, President Clinton urged America not to forget the places that have not yet shared in the extraordinary economic expansion of the last six years. The President further urged all Americans, and especially those with capital to invest and businesses ready to expand, to recognize the ability of these untapped markets to fuel further economic growth.

The HUD study has seven key findings:

FINDING #1 - Tracking the Nation's overall success on the economic front, most cities in the Northeast region are doing quite well, and unemployment is down in all central cities. Unemployment in the region as a whole has fallen to 4.7 percent, the lowest rate in over 8 years and a dramatic drop from a pre-recovery 8.2 percent in 1992. Overall, unemployment in the central cities of the Northeast has declined by 35 percent since 1992. Many cities saw dramatic declines in unemployment between 1992 and 1998, including: Hartford, Connecticut (from 12.6 percent to 6.7 percent); Bridgeport, Connecticut (from 12.3 percent to 6.0 percent); New Haven, Connecticut (from 8.5 percent to 4.1 percent) Bangor, Maine (from 6.8 percent to 3.6 percent); Lewiston, Maine (from 9.1 percent to 4.4 percent); Manchester, New Hampshire (from 8.5 percent to 2.7 percent) Rome, New York (from 7.3 percent to 4.4 percent); Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (from 7.8 percent to 4.9 percent) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (from 6.8 percent to 4.6 percent) Woonsocket, Rhode Island (from 10.9 percent to 5.7 percent) and Burlington, Vermont (from 5.2 percent to 2.8 percent).

FINDING #2 - The Northeast region has undergone significant economic change over the last generation, with major shifts of jobs away from manufacturing and other traditional strengths of the economy. While the overall economic trends are positive, the long-term effects of economic change remain, and the region is left with two economies-a disparity that has created a striking "opportunity gap" that must be addressed. The region's economic transformation has resulted in an especially dramatic job decline in traditional manufacturing industries in cities both large and small. The Northeast saw slower employment growth (1.7 percent) than any other region of the country during the 1990s, although the growth rate increased during the 6-year period of economic expansion (to 5.7 percent). The Northeast's job losses in the traditional, high-wage manufacturing sector between 1980 and 1990 was highest in the Nation (a 21.2 percent drop). This lost ground has not yet been regained in newer sectors, such as services.

FINDING #3 - Alongside important challenges, the Northeast region boasts vital assets for organizing a comeback - an economic renewal that taps important traditions and leaves no community behind. These assets include an extraordinary concentration of educational institutions that can give all communities access to the "knowledge economy," a renewed workforce that includes increased ethnic diversity and a growing number of immigrant workers and their families in new gateway cities, untapped consumer buying power in many of the region's inner city communities, and established transportation and other infrastructure to support revitalized communities and competitive economies.

FINDING #4 - Despite the significant overall drop in unemployment in America's Northeast during the economic expansion of the last six years, unacceptably high unemployment remains in nearly one in five central cities in the region. Tracking the still lagging employment growth of the region as a whole over this decade, seventeen central cities, or nearly one in five (19.3 percent of the regional total), in four States had unemployment rates 50 percent or more above the national rate of 4.5 percent last year. These cities include large urban centers, such as New York City (8.0 percent); Buffalo, New York (8.5 percent); and Newark, New Jersey (9.6 percent) and small and mid-sized communities, such as Lawrence, Massachusetts (8.5 percent); Atlantic City, New Jersey (13.4 percent); Trenton, New Jersey (8.8 percent); Vineland, New Jersey (8.7 percent); Millville, New Jersey (8.0 percent); Niagara Falls, New York (10.4 percent); and Johnstown, Pennsylvania (8.5 percent).

FINDING #5 - Steady population loss affects four in ten central cities in the Northeast. Thirty-seven central cities (40 percent) in seven States lost more than 5 percent of their residents between 1980 and 1998. Such extraordinary loss, at a time when the Nation as a whole expanded at the rapid rate of 19.3 percent, amounts to a significant loss of consumer buying power, tax base, and workers to face the new economic reality and fuel new growth. Cities throughout the region experienced declining population, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (19.7 percent) to Lewiston, Maine (10.6 percent) and other cities including New London, Connecticut (17.2 percent); Norwich, Connecticut (8.3 percent); Elmira, New York (11.2 percent); Binghamton, New York (16.3 percent); Altoona, Pennsylvania (13.8 percent); Pittsfield, Massachusetts (12.4 percent); and Woonsocket, Rhode Island (10.6 percent).

FINDING #6 - By the mid-1990s, persistently high poverty rates plagued nearly four in ten Northeastern central cities, reflecting structural challenges that tend to keep poverty at unacceptably high levels even during a strong economic recovery. Thirty-six central cities (39.1 percent) in six States had estimated poverty rates in excess of 20 percent -50 percent higher than the national rate - as of 1995, the latest year for which local data are available. These cities include large urban centers, such as New York City (23.7 percent) and Philadelphia (23.8 percent) and small and mid-sized cities, such as Lawrence, Massachusetts (30.3 percent); New Haven, Connecticut (26.4 percent); Hartford, Connecticut (35.2 percent); Newark, New Jersey (30.5 percent); Trenton, New Jersey (20.9 percent); Camden, New Jersey (44.2 percent); Rochester, New York (28.3 percent); Utica, New York (27.4 percent); Lancaster, Pennsylvania (22 percent); and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (28.2 percent). Even within the economic successes of strong metropolitan areas, there remain pockets of distress that have not fully participated in the economic expansion. In these communities - New York City, Hartford, Boston, and elsewhere - persistent poverty exists side by side with prosperity.

FINDING #7 - One in six central cities in the region faces "double trouble." Fifteen central cities, or one in six (16.3 percent), in four States face continued high unemployment relative to the Nation as a whole, plus either significant long-run population loss or persistently high poverty rates, or both. These cities include the large urban centers of Newark, New Jersey; New York City; and Buffalo, New York and smaller cities, such as Atlantic City, New Jersey; Camden, New Jersey; Jersey City, New Jersey; Trenton, New Jersey; Lawrence, Massachusetts; New Bedford, Massachusetts; Niagara Falls, New York; Newburgh, New York; Erie, Pennsylvania; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.


Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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