A Tale of Three Cities

A Tale of Three Cities

New York’s economy is divided into three parts: upper, lower, and under. The first two—upper and lower—are old hat, retailored now to fit the service economy. The third—the underground economy—has moved from being a pest to being a pestilence. In toto, they compose a complex entity in which disparate parts live in symbiotic embrace.

The concept of a “dual economy” in the United States—an economic ghetto of vast proportions in the midst of a prosperous nation—is neither new nor peculiar to New York. Economists have named the two economies “core” and “periphery,” or “primary” and “secondary.” In the large, capital-intensive, highly mechanized, oligopolistic industries, earnings have been—and are—high,
even for the most unskilled. In the small, labor-intensive, fiercely competitive industries, earnings were—and are—low, even for the more skilled operatives. As is evident from the description—capital-intensive versus labor-intensive—these classifications were conceived in an industrial (manufacturing) society.

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Lima