When one considers the US cities with the highest levels of wealth inequality between rich and poor residents, Boise Idaho probably isn’t anywhere near the top of the list. But surprisingly, as more people flee California, cities like Boise are seeing an influx of wealthy residents as economic opportunities in the region soar.
As Bloomberg explains, these migration patterns have propelled Boise from near the bottom of Bloomberg’s ranking – which includes the 100 largest cities in the country.
California led all states in the number of people moving to Idaho for the last three years, according to the data.
The gap in Boise widened by $44,400 to $170,000 between 2011 and 2016 –elevating it from No. 76 to No. 7 on the Bloomberg list. For Boise, this meant that the average income among households in the top 20 percent soared to almost $182,000 while incomes in the bottom quintile stagnated around $12,000.
Affordable housing, relative to California, and short commutes are a draw as well as “a strong economic pull” with jobs in a variety of industries, said Ethan Mansfield, research and project manager at the Boise Valley Economic Partnership. However, West Coasters are pushing Boise home prices to record levels.
The rankings rely on an analysis of Census Bureau data to track the differences in annual income between household income groups. The rich versus poor gap compared households in the top 20% to those in the bottom 20% by metropolitan area.
Other cities that saw big expansions in wealth inequality include: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from No. 56 to No. 10; San Diego from No. 49 to No. 9; and Sacramento from No. 32 to No. 6.
The city that saw the biggest expansion in inequality was – unsurprisingly – San Jose, Calif., where the gulf between the rich and poor widened by $73,600 to $339,000.
The city that saw the smallest change among the 100 largest metro areas was El Paso, Texas, where the gap widened by $2,600 to $131,200.
Nationally, the rich versus poor gap expanded by $31,000 to just over $197,000. Last year’s measure, using data from 2010 to 2015, showed an increase of $29,500 to $189,600.
The gap between the middle class and the rich is also widening, the Bloomberg ranking also show. The change in the gap between the super rich and middle class widened in 98 of 100 metropolitan areas, led by Bridgeport, Conn., a sea of poverty in moneyed Fairfield County. The gulf narrowed in Ogden, Utah and Colorado Springs, Colo. The super rich to middle class gap is defined by those in the top 5% of income vs households in the middle 20%.
Meanwhile, what Bloomberg calls the middle class income span – defined as the gap between those within 30% and 80% of an area’s income. The middle class span grew the most in San Francisco where it rose to $140,800 in 2016 from $108,300 five years earlier.
The metropolitan areas where the socioeconomic gaps have diverged the most are located along the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards with Charleston, SC among the leaders as more wealthy people move to the southern coastal city.
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