Logistics Cities: Poverty, Immigration and Employment in Seattle’s Southern Suburbs
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Despite its reputation as a "post-industrial" metropolis, parts of Seattle have either become or remained devoted to manufacturing and logistics. Theories of migration and industrial development that emphasize employment in services, information technology and hi-tech production in American cities tend to obscure patterns of re-industrialization and obscure areas in which de-industrialization never “finished” or simply never quite took place. Against readings that conceptualize American cities’ industrial and demographic changes as components of “neoliberalism” or a new phenomenon of “globalization,” I explore industrial and demographic shifts in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area as local expressions of long-form, always-global capitalist development trends, in which ever-expanding value generation via traditionally productive industries remains a central necessity. Using the most recent US Census, State Employment Security Department and Department of Transportation data, I quantify and map the extension of this global productive infrastructure into the Seattle region. I then document the geographic overlap of this productive infrastructure with new suburban zones of high poverty and high foreign-born settlement and quantify the dependence between these suburban residential tracts and their neighboring industrial tracts using origin-destination data on industry. The result is a picture of the “logistics cities” that exist within “postindustrial” Seattle.
- Geography