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Metro Detroit sprawl separates blacks, jobs


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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Metro Detroit sprawl separates blacks, jobs

Region is among the worst in the nation; lack of public transportation cited.

By Brad Heath / The Detroit News

Jobs in Metro Detroit sprawl across the suburbs more than in just about any other part of the country, a phenomenon that has cut off many African-Americans from potential employers, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Brookings Institution report is the latest to trace the social cost of jobs that increasingly are spread broadly over the suburbs, instead of being concentrated in one or two areas. It found that in Metro Detroit and other regions where jobs sprawl most, black households were less likely to be in the same neighborhood as workplaces. That separation in Metro Detroit is among the worst in the country.

"Unregulated employment growth has social and economic consequences. It means black households are isolated from employment opportunities," said the study's author, Michael A. Stoll, a public policy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The situation in Metro Detroit is compounded by an unreliable mass transit system that makes it more difficult for the poor to reach jobs in far-flung suburbs. "People become victims of that, and they're stuck in their neighborhood," said Agostinho Fernandes, who runs the Gleaners Community Food Bank.

The toll is particularly severe for blacks, the study found. The findings build on a report last year by Wayne State University showing job sprawl slowed progress toward breaking down racial segregation.

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