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The Inequality Problem of America’s Cities

A new report by Brookings confirms that “big cities remain more unequal places by income than the rest of the country.” Where is the gap between wealth and poverty the greatest?
February 24, 2014, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Adam Axon

Alan Berube provides data of a common thread of inequality among America’s cities—although some cities are worse than others.

The report uses the 95/20 ratio as a statistical metric for inequality, defining the ratio as “the income at which a household earns more than 95 percent of all other households, divided by the income at which a household earns more than only 20 percent of all other households.”

“Across the 50 largest U.S. cities in 2012, the 95/20 ratio was 10.8, compared to 9.1 for the country as a whole. The higher level of inequality in big cities reflects that, compared to national averages, big-city rich households are somewhat richer ($196,000 versus $192,000), and big-city poor households are somewhat poorer ($18,100 versus $21,000),” writes Berube.

“However, some cities are much more unequal than others. The big cities with the highest 95/20 ratios in 2012 were Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, and Boston.”

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Published on Thursday, February 20, 2014 in Brookings
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