10. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
> Gini Index: 0.4977
> Median income: $33,761
> Poverty rate: 34.5%
> Pct. with income over $200,000: 1.8%
The McAllen metro area was one of the nation’s poorest last year, with a median household income of just $33,761. Additionally, nearly 35% of the population lived below the poverty line, trailing only the Brownsville metro area, while 36.8% of the population lacked health care. This exceeded every other metro area in the United States. Last year, McAllen’s wealthiest 20% of households accounted for 52.6% of all income. For most occupations, wages in McAllen were significantly lower than their nationwide averages. The area has strong economic and cultural connections with the Mexican city of Reynosa, where drug violence has been a major problem.
9. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas
> Gini Index: 0.4980
> Median income: $30,953
> Poverty rate: 36.1%
> Pct. with income over $200,000: 1.8%
Last year, 12.6% of Brownsville area households had an income of less than $10,000, the highest percentage in the nation. Brownsville also had the nation’s highest poverty rate, at 36.1%, and the lowest median household income, at just $30,953. Brownsville is one of the largest metro areas on the border between Texas and Mexico, with more than 415,000 residents as of last year. Across the border from Brownsville is Matamoros, which has close economic ties to its Texan neighbors. Drug violence remains problematic in Matamoros, and recent economic data for the country has been mixed.
8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.
> Gini Index: 0.5021
> Median income: $46,648
> Poverty rate: 17.5%
> Pct. with income over $200,000: 6.2%
The percentage of people living below the poverty level in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country, was slightly above the national rate, at 17.5%. But the region’s urban areas are significantly poorer — the urban poverty rate in 2012 was 28.3%, compared to 16.3% in suburban areas. Income in Miami was greatly concentrated among the top-earning households last year, with the top 5% of households accounting for more than a quarter all income. According to a study conducted by a University of Central Florida economist, average annual wages in the region are expected to increase over the next few years, which could help curb income inequality.
7. Lafayette, La.
> Gini Index: 0.5035
> Median income: $46,813
> Poverty rate: 17.9%
> Pct. with income over $200,000: 6.1%
The Lafayette area has a higher proportion of residents both among the top earners and the very poor, although not to the same extremes that some of the other metro areas with high inequality have. The region’s poverty rate in 2012 was 17.9%, slightly higher than the national rate of 15.9%. An estimated 6.1% of households brought in $200,000 or more, just barely higher than the national rate of 5.9%. However, the top 20% of all households in the Lafayette area took home more than 53% of all area income for 2012, while the bottom 20% of households had just a 3% share of area income.
6. Jackson, Miss.
> Gini Index: 0.5039
> Median income: $42,604
> Poverty rate: 22.2%
> Pct. with income over $200,000: 4.8%
More than 22% of the Jackson area population lived below the poverty line, among the higher rates for metro areas. However, poverty remains especially problematic within the city proper, where 32.5% of the population lived below the poverty line. This was well above the 17.4% poverty rate for the area’s suburbs. Nearly 7% of Jackson households earned less than $10,000 annually, versus 5% nationally. Wealth in Jackson is overwhelmingly concentrated among the wealthiest households in the area. The top 20% of households accounted for nearly 54% of all income, while almost one-quarter of all income in the area went to the top 5%.