A report entitled All Cities are not Created Unequal was released by the Brookings Institution on February 20, as part of its Metropolitan Opportunity Series. The authors analyze 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) data for the 50 largest U.S. cities, using a “95/20” ratio to measure income inequality. The “95/20” ratio represents the income of households at the 95th percentile, divided by the income of households at the 20th percentile.
The “95/20” ratio across the 50 largest cities is 10.8, compared to 9.1 for the entire country. Income inequality varies across the largest 50 cities. Atlanta, GA has the largest income inequality ratio (18.8), and Virginia Beach, VA has the smallest income inequality ratio (6.0). The cities with the largest income inequality ratio in addition to Atlanta are San Francisco, Miami, and Boston. In these four cities, a household at the 95th percentile of income distribution earns at least 15 times as much as a household at the 20th percentile.
The authors of the study also assess urban income inequality over time. They find that the income inequality ratio across all 50 cities increased from 10.0 in 2007 to 10.8 in 2012. San Francisco experienced the greatest increase in its income inequality ratio. In total, 19 of the largest 50 cities had statistically significant increases in inequality between 2007 and 2012.
The analysis focuses on income inequality at the city level solely, so the findings may understate income inequality at the regional level, especially in areas where poor households have migrated to the suburbs.
The report and data can be accessed from the Brookings Institution’s webpage at: http://bit.ly/1fjYEs6