The average American commuter, alone in an automobile, has a twenty-five-minute ride to work, a not unpleasant, usually overlooked part of the workday. But for millions of low-income people trying to establish themselves in the workforce, getting to work can be a major hurdle because their jobless neighborhoods are not well connected to areas where jobs are plentiful. Theirs is the longest commute. This is not a new problem. The decades-long decline of inner cities and the public transportation system are fairly well-documented phenomena. The time limits instituted as part of the 1996 welfare reform legislation bring a new immediacy to the problem, forcing more low-income people to look for employment, a difficulty that could become worse. Most of the solutions proposed by welfare officials, however, are geared toward trying to improve transportation services, expressed by federal and state officials as “Transportation is the ‘to’ in welfare to work.” Instead, the author suggests, policymakers should recognize that the most effective means of addressing the isolation of low-income communities is to invest in them by bringing jobs to the people rather than people to the jobs.



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