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Miami Herald - July 28,
Miami-Dade experiencing an exodus of middle-class blacks
Miami-Dade is experiencing an exodus of middle-class blacks who are seeking opportunities elsewhere, a new study has found.
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BY ANDREA ROBINSON
County faces a ''brain drain'' of middle-class blacks who are fleeing
because they're anxious over job prospects, poor schools and a lack of
affordable housing, according to a new study being released today.
International University political science Professor Dario Moreno, the
study's author, said the exodus bodes ill for Miami-Dade's economy.
``Miami-Dade is losing middle-class African Americans. I was shocked
that the numbers were so bad.''
The study, the third since 1983
to look at the conditions in black Miami, polled 604 black Miami-Dade
residents and measured the progress of 16 demographic categories in
which the black community has lagged behind whites and Hispanics.
the poll, more than 30 percent of respondents said they planned to
leave Miami-Dade County. Of those, about 40 percent earned between
$60,000 and $80,000 and held a college degree. Among their top choices
for a move: Broward County, Tampa and Atlanta, Moreno said.
latest census data available affirmed the same trend. About one in four
people leaving Miami-Dade are black, while just one in 14 new
Miami-Dade residents are black. The study, by FIU's Metropolitan
Center, showed mixed results over the last 25 years in closing the gap
on social and economic disparities of blacks versus the rest of the
Among the bright spots: The number of black-owned
businesses increased, and the number of blacks who reported problems
with discrimination and segregation dropped since 1983.
results were troubling to Milton Vickers, executive director of Metro
Miami Action Plan, the quasi-government agency that commissioned the
''I would have thought that would have improved over the
years. The economy overall has been extremely strong in Miami-Dade
County,'' Vickers said. ``Strength in the economy for some is not
strength for all.''
Of the 16 categories measured in the report, seven showed modest improvement, four remained unchanged and five worsened.
over affordable housing have surpassed education as the community's
most critical issue, the report noted. Also, the percentage of blacks
who live below the poverty level remained unchanged, while unemployment
leaped to 14.9 percent, up from 7.3 percent in 1983, Moreno said.
expressed ''very little trust'' in government. However, city and county
governments fare better than state and federal -- an indication that
blacks continue to look to local government for jobs, an outgrowth of
the civil rights era when government was the first employment door open
Moreno described the trend of black professionals looking to the public sector for jobs as ``worrisome.''
''People make money in the private sector. Racial equality means that people are represented in all the sectors,'' he said.
many blacks in Miami-Dade don't see local businesses as a vehicle to
upward mobility. Escalating housing costs for the middle class and the
poor performance of some public schools are among ''the drivers of the
exodus,'' Moreno said.
Immigrants from Haiti and the
English-speaking Caribbean are replacing many of the blacks leaving for
other cities, Moreno said, but those new immigrants tend to have lower
education levels as a group and less earning power.
The study is
being released today during a community workshop billed by the Metro
Miami Action Plan as a ''call to action'' for the black community.
shows how far we've come, but how far we haven't come and where we got
to go,'' Vickers said. ''Overall, I'd give Dade County a C-,'' he said.
added that he was struck by the level of pessimism over the future of
black youth. In the poll, 46 percent of respondents said the prospects
for black youth were poor or unsatisfactory.
The 107-page study
offers an assessment of black communities primarily through the prism
of the four majority black county commission districts. The first
analysis produced in 1983 was commissioned to ''address and eradicate
the disparities existing in black communities.'' An update was produced
10 years later.
Vickers and Moreno both said the study is a road
map to measure progress -- or lack of it -- made by the black community
compared with Hispanics and Anglos since 1980.
County over the last 30 years has only made modest progress toward the
goal of eradicating the economic and social disparity between the black
community and the Miami Dade community-at-large,'' the report concluded.
action plan agency was created by the county in 1983 in response to the
May 1980 riots triggered by the acquittal of four white Miami-Dade
police officers in the beating death of black insurance agent Arthur
The goal of the agency was to seek ways to cure social and economic ills blamed for past uprisings.