Economic factors alone cannot, of course, account for the tensions and violence in Ferguson, Missouri which are undeniable and alarming. Still, one wonders how much less volatile things might have been if the community were not experiencing the following, as detailed by Brookings:

The city’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to over 13 percent in 2010-12. For those residents who were employed, inflation-adjusted average earnings fell by one-third. The number of households using federal Housing Choice Vouchers climbed from roughly 300 in 2000 to more than 800 by the end of the decade.

Amid these changes, poverty skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2010-2012, Ferguson’s poor population doubled. By the end of that period, roughly one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), and 44 percent fell below twice that level.

Economic growth and prosperity do not, of course, cure all ills. But they do make most problems easier to bear and stimulate confidence that they can, in time, be ameliorated if not solved.

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