Thursday, August 30, 2007

Income Gap in New York City

From yesterday's NY Times:
New York’s Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Nation’s Widest, Census Says

Surprise, surprise: New York has the widest gap between the rich and poor of any major metropolitan area.

In Manhattan, the disparity was especially wide. The wealthiest 20 percent of Manhattanites made nearly 40 times more than the poorest 20 percent — $351,333, on average, compared with $8,855, a bigger gap than in any other county.

Over all, the poverty rate in the city was 19.1 percent, about where it had been for the previous six years, which meant that about one in five New Yorkers lived below the official poverty line, defined by the federal government as $20,650 for a family of four.

Median income in the city barely budged, to $46,480 in 2006, statistically only slightly higher than the adjusted $44,835 recorded the year before.

I suppose you could try to look at the bright side of this: New York is an incredibly diverse place-- unlike some suburban areas where the population and income level are very homogeneous, there are places here where you can have millionaires living next door to people who are at the poverty line. Though chances are they aren't inviting each other over for dinner.


Escape Brooklyn said...

Economic diversity yields a different result than racial/cultural diversity. Studies reinforce that people are happier making $100,000 in a place where everyone else earns the same or less, versus making $100,000 in a city where a lot of other people earn $200,000+. NYC's disparity, IMHO, accelerates a "keeping up with the Joneses" effect and a feeling that no matter how much you make, it's still never enough.

Ms. M&P said...

The income disparities are similar in DC, but I think they're more geographically separated. There are areas of the city with huge amounts of money (northwest DC) and others with very little (southeast). Both areas of DC can live there lives with almost no contact with the other. It's crazy. I think a lot of people in NW don't even know how much poverty there is in the city. I wonder if it's better or worse to have different income groups separated or living side-by-side. I think I'd take the distribution in NYC over Washington.

mapgirl said...

Ms. M&P, I took a drive in SE the other night. It does shock me sometimes the gulf of disparity in DC. I don't think the culture of the city is about self-reliance though. Patronage and corruption by politicians in the city over many years has pretty much taken care of that. Everyone in DC thinks they have influence and are really, really important. It's nice to have self-esteem and all, but it's also terribly inflated.

DC is one of the worst cities I've ever lived in for 'fronting' and 'keeping up with the Joneses.'

Anonymous said...

no, we don't invite each other over for dinner. but we do eat out together! Walk over to Lombardi's, and you'll see the manual labors dining alongside the bankers. and that that is why i love new york.

- jeni

(i like your blog, i've been following it for a while now :)

Ms. M&P said...

Mapgirl, you are so right about DC. People are overly infatuated with themselves. I didn't notice the "keeping up with the joneses" aspect to it until you said it, but you're so right! I try to keep myself removed from it and as down to earth as possible. community service seems to help me.