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Table 3.B Summary Case Study Sites - Economic and Social Characteristics
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In Hinds County, 16.7 percent of households live below the poverty level; almost 23 percent of Jackson households are below the poverty level. Median household income in Hinds County is $41,636 for white families and $18,316 for African American families.
Jackson is reported to have some of the worst inner-city housing with up to 10 percent of the housing being abandoned or substandard. Jackson has had an epidemic of crack cocaine usage since the mid-1980s. Conservative "Bible Belt" standards appear to hinder discussion of sexual health.
The economy of Humphreys County is based almost solely on cotton and catfish production. The 1988 county unemployment rate of 15.5 percent is distributed as 2.8 percent for whites and 25.7 percent for non-whites. The median household income in the County was $12,696 in 1990, with 38.3 percent of families living below the poverty level. Of those below the poverty level, 91 percent are African American.
Educational achievement in Humphreys County is well below state and national averages. 33 percent of all households headed by unmarried females. Crime, gangs, and drug use are reported throughout the county. Drugs, specifically crack cocaine, are known to move between the towns along the Highway 82 and Highway 49 corridor.
Median household income in Richland County was $28,848 in 1990, with 10.1 percent of households falling below the poverty level. When broken down by race, only 7 percent of white residents live in households below the poverty level, compared to 30 percent of African-American households. Median household income in Columbia was $23,216, with 15.7 percent of households below the poverty level.
The crack cocaine epidemic struck Columbia less strongly than larger metropolitan areas.
Columbia is less of a commercial and industrial center than are Charleston and Greenville/Spartanburg.
The State Legislature enacted comprehensive health education in 1994, however, the implementation authority was left up to each individual school district.
Conservative "Bible Belt" standards appear to limit the discussion of sexual health in schools and churches.
Despite its rural character, employment in Orangeburg County is dominated by manufacturing, government, and education. Median household income in 1990 was $20,216. About 10 percent of the County's white residents belong to households with incomes below the poverty level, while more than 36 percent of African-American households were below the poverty level.
The city of Orangeburg is predominantly white, while the rest of Orangeburg County is predominantly African American. Within Orangeburg City is South Carolina State University (SCSU), a historically black college, and Claflin College, Southern Methodist College, and the two-year Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
Drug use has been considered a serious problem in Orangeburg, especially in an area near SCSU called "the hill." Other than a community center in the city of Orangeburg, there is very little recreation available for youth in the rural areas.
Median household income in Memphis was $22,674 in 1990, with 35 percent of African-American households falling below the poverty level compared with only 7 percent of the white households.
Reduced crime, increased public and private investment, and redevelopment efforts in downtown Memphis over past 10-15 years. Still problems in other areas of city with gangs, violence, and prostitution. Throughout Memphis, lower-, middle-, and upper-income neighborhoods are interspersed, and public housing projects are distributed throughout the city. Of 107,000 students enrolled in the Memphis schools, 88% are African American. The majority of white children attend county schools or private (often church-based) schools.
In 1990, the median household income in Tunica County was $10,965, and 50.5 percent of all families were below the poverty line. Tunica County's economic base was almost solely agricultural until 1992, when casinos began to be developed at the north end of the county. The casinos have provided almost 10,000 jobs (many of which have gone to Memphis residents), have generated substantial tax revenues, and County AFDC and food stamp recipients have been reduced by nearly one-third since their opening.
Educational institutions in Tunica are almost completely divided by race with African-American students attending the public schools while white students attend the private Tunica Institute of Learning. Until recently, the public school system in Tunica was in Level 1 (at risk) status in terms of standardized test scores. However, since a law was passed mandating that 12 percent of tax revenues from the casinos go to the public schools, the situation has improved to Level 2 (probationary).
The median household income in Montgomery County was $26,551 in 1990, with 14 percent of families living below the poverty level. The median household income in the city of Montgomery was $26,311.
Gang and illegal drug activity were mentioned as problems in Montgomery and it was said that major drug dealing points are public housing projects and an area north of downtown known as New Town. The relatively few organized recreational activities available for area teens are primarily for males and do not run on a daily basis. The State of Alabama has no authority to insist on the incorporation of sexual health into the school curricula which authority instead rests with local school boards.
Most people in Lowndes County work outside the county, in Montgomery, Selma, or Greenville. The median household income for the county was $15,584 in 1990, with 31.7 percent of all households falling below the poverty level.
The small rural towns in Lowndes County have little to offer in the way of community services.
The county has no public libraries, YMCA, or swimming pools. Public transportation is limited and does not run on the weekend. It is reported that the primary source of recreation for teens in the county is sex. Approximately 20 percent of all births are to mothers under the age of 20. Drugs are prevalent in the county, the main street drug being crack cocaine with marijuana being the second largest cash crop in the county. The public school system is predominately African American with most white students attending private school in Montgomery or Lowndesboro.