The Cities In America With The Highest (And Lowest) Income Inequality

By McLeod Brown - Jul. 27, 2018

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Life would be a lot different if we were all paid equally.

There’s no telling whether we could all get along living by the same means or if we would end up in some pseudo-dystopia universe a la The Giver.

Alas, we don’t all make the same. Some of us live the life of luxury. Some of us cringe at the thought of paying an extra $2.39 for shipping.

There are areas of the country that are more equal than others, however.

We looked at the states with the highest and lowest income inequality a few months back.

Now, we decided to see what metro areas have the highest and lowest income inequality.

These are the 10 cities with the highest income inequality:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. New Orleans, LA
  3. Miami, FL
  4. College Station, TX
  5. Providence, RI
  6. Cincinnati, OH
  7. Fort Lauderdale FL
  8. New York, NY
  9. Sandy Springs, GA
  10. Tampa, FL

And here are the 10 cities with the lowest income inequality:

  1. West Jordan, UT
  2. Surprise, AZ
  3. Gilbert, AZ
  4. West Valley City, UT
  5. Thornton, CO
  6. Temecula, CA
  7. Pearland, TX
  8. Highlands Ranch, CO
  9. Lewisville, TX
  10. Fontana, CA

Some big names in there, but also a couple smaller areas, too. What does this all tell us?

Summary of findings

  • Atlanta ranks as the metro with the highest income inequality
  • New Orleans and Miami round out the top three
  • Florida is home to four of the top 20 metros with the highest income inequality
  • West Jordan, UT has the lowest income inequality
  • Five states – Utah, Arizona, Colorado, California, and Texas – comprise 14 of the 15 metros with the least income inequality

How we did it

For this analysis, we went to the the American Community Survey 2012-2016 dataset.

We then analyzed the Gini coefficient for each city with over 100,000 people in America where the higher the coefficient the larger the higher the income inequality.

You can read that link for a detailed explanation of the Gini coefficient, but at a high level it is a normalized measure of inequality.

Note that we scaled it by 100 for readability. To give you some perspective, here are some Gini coefficients for countries as a whole, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

  • The United States ranks as the 7th most unequal country in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 39.1%
  • South Africa is the most unequal country in the world as far as income inequality goes, with a Gini coefficient of 62%
  • Costa Rica was the next most unequal country, with a Gini coefficient of 48%
  • Brazil, Mexico, and Chile round out the five most unequal countries
  • Iceland has the most equal income distribution, with a Gini coefficient of 24.6%
  • Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and FInland round out the five most equal countries

Just for kicks and gigs, we thought we’d throw in the median cost of rent and median home values in the cities we analyzed, to give you a better of idea of how much it costs to live there.

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McLeod Brown

McLeod Brown is a former writer and researcher for the Zippia Career Advice blog. His work at Zippia focused on understanding the relationship between colleges, debt, and jobs. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a BA in Business Administrator, he is now pursuing a masters of science in analytics from the Institute of Advanced Analytics.

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Topics: Study