Miami Has Fourth Highest Income Inequality in America

The going is tough for the poor in Miami.
The going is tough for the poor in Miami.

The vast income inequality in Miami is no secret. You can drive around surrounded by gated mansions with well-manicured lawns one moment and then surrounded by slums ten minutes later. Homeless people sleep on sidewalks blocks from glittering luxury condo towers designed by some of the world's greatest architects. So it's no surprise that a new report from the Brookings Institute, a centrist think tank, reports that Miami has the fourth-highest income inequality of any American city. The good news: Miami is down from third place a year earlier. 

The report looked at America's 50 largest cities and focused on the inequality between those earning more than 95 percent of all other households in the city and those in the 20th percentile, earning more than only 20 percent of other households. It used data from 2013, the latest year available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Results were based on the 95/20 ratio, or how much more a household in the 95th percentile made compared with those in the 20th percentile. 

The study found that inequality is generally worse in major cities than it is in the nation as a whole. On average, a household in the 95th percentile in a city made 11.6 times more than someone in the 20th percentile. That ratio for the entire nation was just 9.3.

Miami, of course, is significantly worse. The ratio here was a whopping 14.8 percent. A household in the 20th percentile pulled in just $11,497 a year, whereas a household in the 95th percentile made $169,855. (The study includes only people who claim Miami as their home address, not foreigners and out-of-towners who live here part time.) Only first-place Atlanta, San Francisco, and Boston had higher rates of inequality.

The cities with the highest and lowest inequality.
The cities with the highest and lowest inequality.
Brookings Institute

What's worse is that the income of those in the 20th percentile was one of the lowest cited in the studies. Miami's poor are some of the poorest. That also means Miami's rich aren't even that rich when compared with other cities with high income inequality. Those in the 95th percentile in Atlanta made $288,159 a year. 

There is a bit of good news: Income among poorer households did have a significant increase between 2012 and 2013. Those in the 20th percentile made $10,542 a year in 2012, compared with $11,497 in 2013. That's a 9.1 percent increase, the eighth-highest increase among 20th-percentile households in the nation. It was also good enough to see Miami fall one spot on the list since 2012. 

However, perhaps that's because Miami's poor were so poor to begin with.


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