These 19 Metro Areas Have the Biggest Wealth Gaps, Study Finds

It's hard to ignore income inequality in these places.

Income creates a disparity in every U.S. city, but the gap is significantly larger in some areas than in others. And a study recently completed by GOBankingRates highlighted 19 cities where the distribution of wealth is striking.

Despite the cities’ geographic proximity to one another, the extreme levels of affluence and poverty in these cities mean residents in each group essentially are living in different worlds. 

To identify the U.S. cities most divided by wealth, GOBankingRates analyzed the 100 largest metro areas in the country based on four factors: average income of the top 1 percent, average income of the bottom 99 percent, median household income of the wealthiest city in the metro area and median household income of the poorest city in the metro area. Cities were then scored and ranked in order of inequality.

No two cities have the exact same income discrepancy, but the overarching problem is evident in each one — a shrinking middle class. Extremes on both ends of the wealth spectrum mean fewer people fit into what traditionally is considered the largest economic class in the country.

Interestingly, four of the top five metropolitan areas on the list are in Florida. In total, “The Sunshine State” is ranked six times, indicating a major divide between the rich and poor throughout the state.

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Surprisingly, the New York City metro region didn’t make the list despite being long-considered one of the most expensive areas to live in the country. However, two regions located within a couple of hours of the area did make the cut.

Here are the 19 cities that displayed the biggest income gaps in the study:

 Rank Metro/City Average Income of Top 1% Average Income of Bottom 99% Top-to-Bottom Ratio Median Income – Top Neighborhood Median Income – Bottom Neighborhood
1 Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn. $6,061,230 $82,222 73.7 $205,688 $41,050
2 Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla. $2,519,981 $39,710 63.5 $217,375 $27,239
3 Miami $1,789,754 $39,778 45 $250,000 $20,338
4 Port St. Lucie, Fla. $1,393,985 $36,015 38.7 $250,000 $23,125
5 Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla. $4,191,055 $57,258 73.2 $102,997 $11,386
6 Houston $1,691,321 $59,161 28.6 $250,000 $12,500
7 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. $2,168,628 $70,994 30.5 $239,886 $35,288
8 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. $1,344,847 $40,169 33.5 $172,981 $17,941
9 Dallas $1,332,359 $53,692 24.8 $194,517 $20,644
10 Boston $1,963,545 $64,135 30.6 $168,690 $32,851
11 Reno, Nev. $1,332,600 $39,726 33.5 $143,804 $24,722
12 Trenton, N.J. $1,632,830 $60,245 27.1 $147,778 $14,145
13 Las Vegas $1,459,955 $35,895 40.7 $91,851 $25,938
14 Santa Fe, N.M. $1,410,235 $46,590 30.3 $102,614 $9,516
15 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. $1,353,983 $38,921 34.8 $92,560 $23,368
16 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif. $1,455,805 $48,492 30 $113,646 $29,146
17 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark. $1,594,106 $48,151 33.1 $81,607 $23,375
18 Atlanta $1,025,362 $48,356 21.2 $108,464 $17,118
19 New Orleans $961,042 $44,025 21.8 $105,710 $16,604

 

Keep reading to discover the secret wealth behind these big cities.

Methodology: To identify the U.S. areas most divided by wealth, GOBankingRates analyzed the 100 largest metro areas in the country according to four factors: (1) average income of the top 1 percent; (2) average income of the bottom 99 percent, sourced from the Economic Policy Institute; (3) median household income of the wealthiest city in the metro area; and (4) median household income of the poorest city in the metro area, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. Metro areas were scored and ranked based on the four factors.

About the Author

Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She specializes in a variety of topics, including marketing, personal finance, entertainment and lifestyle. Her work has been featured on dozens of sites, including HuffPost, CNBC, Business Insider, Nasdaq, MSN, Yahoo, Fortune, Inc., Entrepreneur and POPSUGAR. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.

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