Rogue's note: This originally appeared Friday as my online column in the Seattle Times.
While the world is watching Ferguson, Mo., it is useful to examine how this inner-ring suburb is emblematic of many unfortunate economic trends in America. In 2010, the town was more than 67 percent African-American, a demographic particularly hit hard not only by the Great Recession but by disruptions with a longer arc.
The homeownership rate in Ferguson was almost 10 percentage points lower than the state's as of 2012. Median household income of $37,517 compared with Missouri's $47,333 (Seattle: $63,470). Twenty-two percent of the population was below the federal poverty level vs. 15 percent statewide. This despite the world headquarters for Emerson Electric being nearby.
As of July, the national unemployment rate for African-Americans was 12.2 percent. For those aged 16 to 19, it was a staggering 36.8 percent (a year earlier, it had been 42.9 percent). For whites, the comparable numbers in July 2014 were 5.6 percent and 18.9 percent.