The U.S. Cities With The Biggest Economic Inequality
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, at least for many of America's largest cities. From Obama's 2015 State of the Union address to Occupy Wall Street, the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has been an issue that's dominated the national conversation. Now a new analysis by the Brookings Institution reports that between 2007 and 2013, the gulf between the rich and the poor has widened in 21 of America's largest 50 cities.
It's not just in the cities you'd expect either, like New York and Washington: it's also Atlanta, Miami, and Dallas. Brookings Institution defines the highest earners as those earning more than 95 percent of all other households (the 95th percentile) and the lowest earners as those earning more than only 20 percent of other households (the 20th percentile). It then measures the gap between the two, or the "95/20 ratio". It also takes into account inflation.In most of the 50 largest U.S. cities, the rich have higher incomes and the poor lower incomes, than the nation overall. Atlanta ranked #1 as the most unequal city, followed by San Francisco, Boston, Miami, and Washington D.C. New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis made up the rest of the top ten.
Brookings Institution's findings "lend support to the concern that rising incomes at the top of the distribution are not--at least in the short term--lifting earnings near the bottom, even in local markets". The solution to economic inequality in American cities is complicated and hotly debated. Will other cities follow Seattle's lead and raise their minimum wage, allowing low earners to make higher wages in high-cost places? Many are considering or already in the process of enacting such increases. However, long-term economic diversity and mobility depends on cities not merely raising wages, but also working to improve education and urban planning.