5 facts about America's income segregation

Park Avenue, NYC
Pedestrians and bicyclists make their way down Park Avenue during NYC's Summer Streets festival. Park Ave. is home to the highest concentration of billionaires in the country, but also runs through the South Bronx, home to the poorest congressional district in the United States.
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Increasingly, the rich are living with the rich, and the poor are living with the poor.

It's a trend known as income segregation, and Richard Florida writes that it has "troubling implications for the economic mobility of people and the economic health of cities."

The Twin Cities actually buck the trend: The metro area is one of the least income segregated large metros in the country.

Cities have always had some level of inequality and segregation, but the problem is getting worse, Florida said on The Daily Circuit. Metro areas attract the very wealthy because they are incubators of ideas and enterprise and the poor come looking for work.

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5 facts about America's income segregation

1. On average, bigger metro areas have more income segregation.

Due to their size, large metro areas typically have a range of living options, including richer and poorer suburbs, Florida said. Smaller rural areas are less segregated, with people from varied income levels living closer together.

One caller talked about the mix of incomes in rural Dundee, Minn.

2. The poorest Americans are most segregated in deindustrialized metro areas.

"What that really reflects are hard-hit, more deindustrialized economies like Milwaukee, like Memphis, that have not developed the kind of knowledge economy that the Twin Cities (has)," Florida said.

These cities typically have what he called a "hole in the donut." The metro's affluent people and businesses abandon the core of the city, leaving a concentration of the area's disadvantaged residents.

3. The current economic structure is causing larger income disparities.

A third of American jobs are in the high-paying knowledge sector, while two-thirds of Americans are in lower-paid service, part-time jobs or unemployed.

"We have to bring up those service jobs," Florida said.

He said boosting the minimum wage and creating stronger internal career ladders for workers at bigger companies would help bridge that gap.

4. Concentrated poverty is hard to change.

"One thing we've seen in America is these areas of concentrated poverty, whether they be in the urban core or in the suburbs, are kind of immune, resistant to upgrading," Florida said. "They need to be continuously put on the agenda of our local politicians and federal politicians and we continue to need a national urban strategy, which we don't have."

5. The wealthy tend to be attracted to waterfronts, urban centers, transit hubs and knowledge institutions like universities.

When these areas of opportunity and activity become colonized by the wealthy, it pushes the poorer residents out. Those people then have longer commutes to work, less access to jobs and become shut out of professional networks.

Are there any solutions to end income segregation? Do we need a solution? Leave your comments below.