Detroit Bankruptcy Highlights Nation's Obsession With Diplomas

If you thought the bankruptcy in Detroit was caused by the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, well, you'd be wrong. Alan Mallach explains how our obsession with college degrees contributed to the downfall of a city.
October 1, 2013, 10am PDT | jodi@nhi.org | @shelterforce
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"Whether the United States will continue to make things is one issue. Whether we will be a country where people without college degrees will be able realistically to aspire to something better than near-minimum wage jobs and near-poverty subsistence is another," writes Mallach. "Nearly 40 percent of the jobs in Detroit are filled by people with college degrees, but only 12 percent of the adults in Detroit have such degrees."

"This creates a devastating chain reaction not only in Detroit, but in many other cities. As more and more of the urban population, by virtue of limited education and specialized skills, are relegated to low-wage service and retail jobs, more and more of them are forced to commute to the suburbs, where those jobs are. With increasing poverty, neighborhood conditions deteriorate, and the lucky few who get well-paying manufacturing jobs as likely as not move to the suburbs."

"Ultimately the challenge, in Detroit as elsewhere, is how to create an economy that can provide the kind of jobs and wages that will allow everyone who wants to work to find a job that can provide him or her with a decent living wage, to afford decent housing and raise a family."

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Published on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 in Rooflines
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