Special Report

20 Cities With the Widest Gap Between the Rich and Poor

Thomas C. Frohlich, Michael B. Sauter, Sam Stebbins

9. Greenville, NC
> Gini coefficient:
> Median household income: $40,639
> Poverty rate: 25.6%
> Pct. earning more than $200,000: 3.1%

As in a handful of other cities with the widest income gaps, Greenville’s poverty rate of 25.6% is among the higher rates nationwide. Low incomes may be less financially burdensome in the area than in many other regions because the cost of goods and services is more than 10% less on average than their cost across the nation. As in most areas with the most uneven income distribution, households in the top 5% of the income spectrum account for nearly 26% of all income generated in Greenville.

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8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
> Gini coefficient:
> Median household income: $46,946
> Poverty rate: 17.7%
> Pct. earning more than $200,000: 5.1%

The Miami area has a high concentration of professional and scientific jobs, which tend to have higher salaries. This may explain why some Miami residents have extremely high incomes. More than 5% of the Miami metro area households earn at least $200,000 annually, while 8.7% earn less than $10,000. The wealthiest 20% of households earn 54.5% of all income generated in the area, one of the highest such shares. The poorest 20% of households, on the other hand, account for less than 3% of the area’s entire income. Goods and services cost 5% more than the average cost across the nation, and the high prices are likely more burdensome for the area’s lower-income residents. However, the region, with its easy access to beaches along Florida’s southeastern shore, is still a very desirable place to live. The metro’s population grew 4.4% from July 2010 through July 2013, twice the national population growth rate.

7. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
> Gini coefficient:
> Median household income: $65,786
> Poverty rate: 14.6%
> Pct. earning more than $200,000: 10.0%

The New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area’s median income of $65,786 is one of the few among areas with uneven income distribution to exceed the national median income of $52,250. Because of the extremely wealthy households the area’s average income is $35,697 higher than the median income at $101,482. The difference, which is the second largest compared to other metros, is the result of high income inequality. One in 10 households earns at least $200,000, twice the national share. While the metro’s poverty rate of 14.6% is slightly lower than the national rate, area residents are more likely to rely on food stamps than most Americans. This could be due in part to goods and services costing about 22.2% more than the national average price level, the second highest cost of living nationwide.

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6. College Station-Bryan, TX
> Gini coefficient:
> Median household income: $39,657
> Poverty rate: 28.4%
> Pct. earning more than $200,000: 3.0%

The College Station-Bryan metro area is one of three Texas metros with the most unevenly distributed income. The wealthiest 20% of households earn at least $89,292. While this is lower than the comparable national income figure, it is also 6.4 times the highest income among the area’s poorest 20% of households — a larger disparity than in all but one other metro area. Like most metros with the highest income inequality, the College Station metro area’s poverty rate of 28.4% is well above the national poverty rate of 15.8%.