To this point it has been shown that the economic restructuring of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and other factors such as housing and labor market discrimination, have disproportionately impacted minority residents of the central city. As a result, many of these individuals are unemployed, involuntarily live under poverty conditions (i.e low income), reside in public housing neighborhoods, and some receive public assistance benefits.
Many public assistance recipients are poorly prepared for labor market entry because their skills and education levels are low. Low-skilled jobs, when available, are located in the suburbs away from where most of these individuals reside, and pay relatively low wages and benefits. As a result of these conditions, employment opportunities for low-skilled individuals and public assistance recipients are limited. Yet, it is thought by some Americans that public welfare recipients are lazy and would rather collect a welfare check than work.
There is plenty of research to support and contradict the ideas presented here. However, most of the research falls short of finding a bottom line to answer the following question. Are there enough jobs that are reasonably accessible to public assistance recipients, for which public assistance recipients have appropriate skills and education preparation, or for which they can be trained, and that pay liveable wages?
Recent work by Leete and Bania (1995a and 1995b) provides evidence that seems to answer this question for two specific populations of public assistance recipients who live in the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area. In the following sections, this study discusses the Leete and Bania model, examines the potential use of the model, and applies a variation of the model to the New Orleans metropolitan area.