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Report: Fairfield County is nation’s ‘most unequal’ metro area

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GREENWICH, CT - MAY 15:  HRH Prince Harry (center) competes in the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup during the sixth day of his visit to the United States at Greenwich Polo Club on May 15, 2013 in Greenwich, Connecticut. HRH will be undertaking engagements on behalf of charities with which the Prince is closely associated on behalf also of HM Government, with a central theme of supporting injured service personnel from the UK and US forces.  (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/WireImage)

GREENWICH, CT – MAY 15: HRH Prince Harry (center) competes in the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup during the sixth day of his visit to the United States at Greenwich Polo Club on May 15, 2013 in Greenwich, Connecticut. HRH will be undertaking engagements on behalf of charities with which the Prince is closely associated on behalf also of HM Government, with a central theme of supporting injured service personnel from the UK and US forces. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/WireImage)

A new report published this week by the real estate website Trulia declares that the Fairfield County Metropolitan Statistical Area is the nation’s ‘most unequal,’ due to the great divide between our area’s well-to-do families and those who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Income inequality has been growing in America, driven by technology, globalization, and other factors. It’s caused tensions between the haves and have-nots, which often get played out at the local level, and these tensions have erupted into fights over housing affordability and public services,” Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko writes in the introduction to his report, which compared incomes of the rich, median and poor households in each of the nation’s largest 100 metropolitan areas.

To come up with his ranking, Kolko began by defining who is “rich” and who is “poor.” Here’s how he did that:

A rich household is defined as being at the 90th percentile – which means being above 90% of all households in the metro; the median is at the 50th percentile, while poor is defined as at the 10th percentile. Our main inequality measure is the ratio of incomes at the 90th and 10th percentiles (the “90/10 ratio”), which shows the size of the gap between the rich and the poor. A higher value of the ratio means incomes are more unequal; among the 100 metros, the 90/10 ratio ranges from below 9 to above 18.

Here in Fairfield County, the number is higher than ever. Back in 1990, it was 11.4; in 200, it increased to 15.7; and again to 16.2 in 2006. By 2012, Kolko found the number was 18.5 — the largest in the entire nation. Here’s what he had to say about income inquality here in our backyard:

The most unequal metro in America isn’t a well-known big city; it isn’t even bankrupt or overrun with rich tech workers. It’s Fairfield County, CT, home to the tony towns of Darien and Weston but also to the city of Bridgeport, where one third of children are below the official poverty level today and which tried to go bankrupt back in 1991. There, the 90th percentile of income is 18.5 times the 10th percentile. San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Detroit – which did successfully go bankrupt last year – round out the top five. Among the top 10 most unequal metros, four are in New England.

Want to know who has better equality? Here’s the top 1o:

Categories: General
Maggie Gordon