Special Report

America's Most Segregated Cities

6. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
> Pct. of population living in segregated areas:
> Black poverty rate: 25.2%
> White poverty rate: 10.5%
> Black unemployment rate: 11.1%
> White unemployment rate: 4.7%

The gap between white and black median household incomes in the Nashville area is $21,034, making Nashville one of only three metro areas reviewed with a lower gap than the national one.Nashville However, while the white unemployment rate of 4.7% was well below the national jobless rate, 11.1% of black area workers were unemployed. And while just over one in 10 white residents lived in poverty, more than one in four black residents did.

Also, like in nearly every other U.S. metro area, the poorest zip code in the Nashville area is predominantly black. The 37208 zip code is located near downtown Nashville, while the predominantly white neighborhoods are largely located outside the city proper. As is the case in most of the country, residential segregation in the Nashville area is largely due to federal home-financing policies in the 1950s that were unavailable to black residents. As Rothstein explained, the intentional segregation of these neighborhoods also contributed to income and wealth disparities.

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5. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
> Pct. of population living in segregated areas:
> Black poverty rate: 33.5%
> White poverty rate: 10.3%
> Black unemployment rate: 10.2%
> White unemployment rate: 6.1%

The racial divide in Cincinnati is one of the greatest in the country. While 10.3% of white area residents live in poverty, more than 30% of Hispanic residents and more than 33% of black residentsCincinnati live below the poverty line, both among the highest rates in the country. Homeownership rates among black Americans in Cincinnati are similarly low, as just 34.1% of black households are owned by the people living in them. Among whites, the rate is nearly 74%.

According to 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, more than 48% of Cincinnati residents live in zip codes where the vast majority of residents have the same skin color or ethnicity, the fifth highest rate in the country. However, this does not fully capture segregation in the area. Some racial groups also tend to cluster with each other, often along income lines. Asians and whites tend to cluster together, just as blacks and Hispanics also tend to live in the same neighborhoods. In the Cincinnati area, 74.1% of residents lived in a zip code where one of these two combined groups made up at least 80% of the population. This higher level of segregation among the combined groups was most pronounced among whites and Asians — 90% of the combined group lived with each other.

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4. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
> Pct. of population living in segregated areas:
> Black poverty rate: 31.1%
> White poverty rate: 11.0%
> Black unemployment rate: 13.2%
> White unemployment rate: 6.4%

The Louisville metro area may be in a unique position to reverse the impacts of segregation in the future. The majority of the area is located in Jefferson County, which is represented by a single Louisvilleschool district. Since the 1970s, Louisville’s busing plan helped diversify the student body in many schools. While schools may be more diverse, residents still live in sharply divided neighborhoods. Two zip codes in the center of the city are home to 2.7% of the area’s population, but nearly 20% of the city’s black population live there. And 61.7% of the area’s white residents live in homogeneous zip codes.

Residential segregation can have an enormous impact on social and economic factors. In both of the primarily black zip codes in Louisville, less than 10% of adult residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, well below the 26.3% of all metro area adults with such a degree. Additionally, the median income of black households of just $30,000 is well below the median income of white households of more than $54,000.

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