William Julius Wilson Photo

William Julius Wilson

Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Emeritus
Office Address
79 John F. Kennedy St. Taubman Bldg 406
Wilson, William Julius. "Jobless Poverty: A New Form of Social Dislocation in the Inner-City Ghetto." Inequality: Classic Readings in Race, Class, and Gender. Ed. David Grusky and Szonja Szelenyi. Routledge, 2018, 87-102.


This chapter describes a new type of poverty in nation's metropolises: poor, segregated neighborhoods in which a majority of adults are either unemployed or have dropped out of the labor force altogether. The unemployment rate represents only the percentage of workers in the official labor force—that is, those who are actively looking for work. The factors involved in the decreased relative demand for unskilled labor include changes in skill-based technology. The rapid growth in college enrollment that increased the supply and reduced the relative cost of skilled labor, and the growing internationalization of economic activity, including trade liberalization policies, which reduced the price of imports and raised the output of export industries. Race continues to be a factor that aggravates inner-city black employment problems. The disrupting effect of joblessness on marriage and family causes poor inner-city blacks to be even more disconnected from the job market and discouraged about their role in the labor force.