Which U.S. Cities Are the Most Unequal?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 20 2014 7:06 PM

Atlanta, San Francisco Top List of Most Unequal U.S. Cities  

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The Atlanta skyline sits beyond Turner Field. In a new paper published by the Brookings Institution, Atlanta was found to have the highest income inequality of the nation's 50 largest cities.

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

All cities are not created unequal. That’s the title of a paper published today by the Brookings Institution, which takes a look at which of the nation's largest cities have the highest and lowest levels of income inequality – and why. A few topline takeaways:

Big cities are more unequal than the rest of the country. “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).”

Where inequality is rising it is largely because the poor are getting poorer rather than the rich getting richer. “For instance, rich households in Jacksonville in 2012 earned nearly $19,000 (11 percent) less than five years prior. At the same time, incomes among the city’s poor households dropped nearly $8,000 (31 percent).”

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Cities with the lowest income inequality are mostly located in the South and the West, “with expansive borders, and either include many 'suburban' neighborhoods alongside a traditional urban core, or are themselves overgrown suburbs.”

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