Art Wheaton, automotive industry expert and senior lecturer at Cornell University’s ILR School, says that the U.S. automotive industry’s struggles are not the sole culprit for Detroit’s economic problems.
“The travesty of finances in Detroit has been a disaster in slow motion. It is unfair to blame the urban blight entirely on the U.S. car industry. Similar trends in Rust Belt urban areas can be found in Cleveland, Buffalo and many other cities.
“The American Dream for a nice neighborhood and good schools led many to leave Detroit to give a brighter future to their children and better job opportunities in the suburbs.
“The auto industry was not a fun place to be when many of the old Detroit factories were built. Auto workers did not live very long or enjoy good retirement plans prior to the 1950s. Auto factories spread out across the country to locate near good workers, lower costs and newer customers. As people move out of the city the tax base diminishes and the death spiral begins. The auto industry was not the cause it is simply one of the signature industries of the area.”
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