While government officials have brought income inequality to the forefront of the national consciousness, an often-overlooked aspect of the problem is economic segregation. 

A 2012 report from the Pew Research Center found that the segregation of upper- and lower-income households is on the rise in 27 of the country’s 30 largest metro areas, and a new study, released by the Martin Prosperity Institute, helps to conceptualize this widening gap by indexing the most and least segregated urban areas.

The report measures economic segregation as a product of three factors: income, education and occupation. It identifies income segregation as the rift between poor households (those below the poverty line) and rich households (those pulling in more than $200,000 a year). Educational segregation reflects the separation between non-high school graduates and college graduates, and occupational segregation refers to the splits between the creative class, the service class and the working class. 

Richard Florida, lead researcher, told City Lab the team developed seven individual and three combined measures of income, education and occupational segregation. These comparison points combined to form a segregation index ranking for the country’s metro areas.

The top 10 metro areas with the highest levels of economic segregation, according to the report are:

  • Tallahassee, Fla.
Trenton-Ewing, N.J.
  • Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Tucson, Ariz.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Huston-Sugar Land- Baytown, Texas
  • Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Santa Ana, Calif.

The 10 least segregated metros are:

  • Fond du Lac, Wis.
  • Monroe, Mich.
  • St. George, Utah
  • Lewiston, Idaho-Wash.
  • Dover, Del.
  • Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Morristown, Tenn.
  • Bay City, Mich.
  • Sherman-Denison, Texas
  • Hagerstown-Martinsburg Md.-W.V.

To learn more, download the full report here.


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