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Social Explorer analysis for The New York Times finds Manhattan income gap exceeds Third World levels

FRIDAY, SEP 29, 2023

Three boroughs in New York City have the highest income gaps in the country, according to a Social Explorer analysis conducted for The New York Times. The island of Manhattan, a global economic capital, reported the largest income gap in the nation; Bronx and Kings counties also were among the 10 U.S. counties with the greatest income disparity between rich and poor.

“It’s amazingly unequal,” Andrew Beveridge, president of Social Explorer, told The Times. “It’s a larger gap than in many developing country.”

The Times described the results of the analysis as the latest data that reflect the city’s uneven rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as wealthy residents have become wealthier, poor and middle-class residents in the nation’s largest city are struggling. The Center for New York City Affairs reported that low-paid workers who made an average of $40,000 have gained $186 annually in wages since 2019; highly paid workers with a typical salary of $217,000 have gotten an average pay increase of $5,100.

“One hundred is the new $20 bill,” Chino Zeno, a Brooklyn solar installer who earns $22 an hour and moonlights as a photographer, told The Times. “It’s hard for people right now.”

Income inequality is generally calculated using the Gini coefficient, a number between 0 and 1. A Gini of 1 means one household has all the income; a Gini of 0 means that all income is evenly distributed among households. The Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey found the nationwide 2022 Gini was 0.49. The Gini in New York County was 0.60.

The degree of inequality in New York puts the nation’s largest city on par with the Gini for Suriname (0.58) and Zambia (0.57). Essex County, N.J., across the Hudson River from New York, trailed with a Gini of 0.56, followed by Starr County, Texas (0.55); Orleans Parish, La. (0.55); and Westchester County, N.Y. (0.55).

By contrast, Slovenia reports a Gini of 0.246; Belarus has a Gini of 0.25. The lowest Gini among major U.S. counties was reported in Stafford County, Va. (0.34). It was trailed by Robertson County, Tenn. (0.36) and Calvert County, Md. (0.36).

(The U.S. results were taken from single-year results from the American Community Survey, which includes all places with more than 65,000 people. Results from a five-year sample of the data that will cover the entire country are expected later this year.)

Slow wage growth in service jobs and retail woes caused the inflation-adjusted median household income in New York to plunge almost 7% between 2019 and 2022, the sharpest slide among major U.S. cities. The typical household in New York earns slightly less than $75,000 – less than Phoenix, where median household income rose to almost $76,000.

“The mixed signals highlight a widening chasm,” The Times reported. “The city is recovering, but many of its residents are not.”

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