A hard downshift in Detroit;
In a struggle that resonates across the land, Motor City's residents feel beaten up by a fight to find work and save their homes. Even so, many are optimistic about the decade ahead.
Dana Hedgpeth and Jennifer Agiesta
The decline of the auto industry and the nation's economic slide have left many residents here trapped, without work, in houses they can't sell, in neighborhoods where they fear for their safety, in schools that offer their children a hard road out. People across the metro area are feeling the stress of an uncertain financial landscape, with majorities worried about the economy, the cost of health care and having enough money to pay their bills. The region's bleak jobs situation is residents' No. 1 concern, by a big margin. That anxiety is compounded by a widely held feeling that the community is divided by race and income. And yet they haven't given up.
In a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll about Detroit, almost all residents of the main three-county metropolitan area see their economy as in ruins. About half say this is a bad place to raise a family; as many describe a declining standard of living, swelling debt, deteriorating neighborhoods and a brutal job market.
A steadfast optimism, however, shines through the poll. A large majority of residents expect that things will get better, with 63 percent optimistic about the area's future and the same percentage expecting their finances to improve over the next decade.
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