Monday, September 05, 2005

MOVING WORKING CLASS?

Reuters is carrying an article that theorizes that Katrina may cause many of the refugees from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans to stay away from the region forever. In effect, this could be a second Great Migration.

L and I were actually talking about this last night. We were thinking that the wealthy could probably afford to wait for rebuilding, and would have insurance, and the welfare dependent would still have access to their funds and so could wait it out. The people who probably are in the worst position to wait it out are the working and middle class. They may have had some insurance, but they will not have the means to not work while they wait for infrastructure etc. to be rebuilt. If, for instance, you worked in a casino in Biloxi, you probably do not have much in savings, and those casinos will probably not be up and running again soon. You cannot afford to stay.

Depending on where people are coming from and where they are going, the demographics of a number of regions could be changed. Chicago is a traditional Great Migration end point, and a prosperous city, so there may be people from the Gulf Coast who end up there. Lots of people are already in Houston, so that would be a natural place to stay. Memphis, St. Louis, and other cities along the river could also be possible migration points. Finally, for the experienced casino workers (who were an important part of Mississippi's economy), Vegas and Indian Country may beckon.

ADDENDUM: L and I were just watching CNN. They were talking to people in Houston who apparently intended to remain in Houston. They said that Wal-Mart, a company open to vast criticism in the past, has guaranteed employment to all of its employees displaced by the hurricane. CNN then spoke to a woman working in a Houston Wal-Mart who FOUR days ago was sleeping on an overpass in New Orleans. First, she is a real trooper. Second, kudos to Wal-Mart for really stepping up to the plate there.

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