But experts said looking at just the statewide and county-wide data tells only part of the story. Look at the survey’s demographic picture of the city of Bridgeport, and you’ll see a much different side of what it means to live in the Constitution State. For instance, the median household income in Bridgeport was about $41,210 — roughly half of that in Fairfield County. Only about 15 percent of city residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher; only about 73 percent of those aged 25 or older were high school graduates.
The city also had a much higher poverty rate than the state as a whole. Though the percent of Connecticut residents in poverty increased from 7.9 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in this most recent survey, it’s still much lower than in Bridgeport, where 20.3 percent of residents live in poverty.
This duality is all too familiar to Barbara Edinberg, acting director of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. Because Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Edinberg said, many people don’t realize that there are pockets of devastating poverty within the state.”When you look at the statistics for Bridgeport and look at the rest of Fairfield County, it’s so clear that there are two Connecticuts here,” she said. “We are living on the Gold Coast, but the gold hasn’t reached Bridgeport.”
Well my goodness, that just proves we’re all a bunch of greedy racists, doesn’t it? Of course, there’s this information missing from Miss Edinberg’s analysis:
In addition to being rich, white and professional, Fairfield County-ites were generally well-educated. The survey shows that 88 percent of people in the county aged 25 years over had at least graduated from high school, and 43 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. County residents were slightly better educated than the state at large. About 35 percent of Connecticut resident had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
That dichotomy is particularly obvious when you compare statewide statistics for poverty and median household income, Edinberg said, but there are other telling differences as well. For instance, only about 20 percent of Connecticut residents spoke a language other than English at home, compared with roughly 45 percent in Bridgeport. ”
The relative braininess of state and county residents didn’t come as a shock to Fairfield University sociology professor Kurt Schlicting. “It seems to me that whenever government and economic gurus speak about Connecticut they say (education) is our big economic advantage,” he said. There’s often a link between an educated populace and prosperity, Schlicting said. Thus it’s no coincidence that, in addition to having one of the highest average household incomes in the country, Connecticut has the fourth highest percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree (34.8 percent) and the fourth highest percentage of people who have earned an advanced degree (15.1 percent).
So let’s see: if almost half a city’s residents don’t speak English, 85% have no college degree, and 27% are high school dropouts, could their poverty be attributed to anything but racism? Of course not, and you’re a racist for even raising the question.