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Miami Today News -
poverty rate among highest in US, Census report says
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The City of Miami has one of the highest
poverty rates and one of the lowest median incomes among large US
cities, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey
The survey places Miami's poverty
rate at 26.9%, well above the state average of 12.6%, Miami-Dade
County's 16.4% and the national average of 13.3%.
residents living below the poverty line have the added burden of
dealing with some of the nation's highest median housing prices.
economists say they are not surprised by the findings.
seeing a significant influx of immigrants moving into the city and that
is increasing because the county's lower cost housing is in the
vicinity of the city," said Manuel Lasaga, president of Strategic
Information Analysis Inc. in Miami.
Mr. Lasaga said
the city's service-oriented economy and the high percentage of
residents employed in those fields also are a drag on wages.
ranked in the bottom five of cities of more than 250,000 people with
the highest poverty rates, joining Detroit, Buffalo, NY, Cincinnati and
Cleveland. The census data shows that 94,530 of Miami's 351,000
residents are living below poverty level.
median household income of $27,088 also ranked in the bottom four,
joining Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo. That's well below the national
average of $48,451 and the state's $45,495.
Miami, there is a wide disparity of median household income between
non-Hispanic whites ($63,723), Hispanics ($25,673) and
Peter Thompson, an
economist at Florida International University, said the city attracts a
steady flow of newly-arrived, young and low-skilled immigrants who take
low-paying jobs, then leave the city as they become upwardly mobile.
That is reflected in lower poverty rates in surrounding areas such as
Miami Beach (17%) and Kendall (12%).
incubator effect the City of Miami has," said Tony Villamil, CEO of the
Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables. "They will go to Miami-Dade
Community College, many of them, and learn a skill or a trade and then
move on. There's not a lot of news in that sense \u2014 it's been
happening that way here for a while now."
Villamil said that the survey tends to skew Miami's data because it
does not count many of the city's affluent seasonal residents.
Thompson said a poor public education system and a high dropout rate
are also contributing to poverty figures.
would be the first thing to look at," he said.
survey found that 37% of Miami residents living below the poverty level
have less than a high school education.
second-generation immigrants are handicapped if their parents don't
learn English and are unable to participate in their children's
schooling, Mr. Thompson added.
While there are
pockets of lingering institutional poverty in the city, what would be
especially revealing, Mr. Villamil said, would be a study over a
10-year period to see if the same families in poverty then are the same
"You would find that a lot of those first
families are doing a lot better today," he said