Middle-Income Metro Neighborhoods In Decline

Peter Coy

A new study from the Brookings Institution says that metro areas are becoming increasingly segregated by income. This should be no surprise to someone who has ever walked up New York City's Fifth Avenue near the north end of Central Park and in the space of one or two blocks seen the transition from amazing wealth to poverty. But the stats are still interesting. According to authors Jason C. Booza, Jackie Cutsinger, and George Galster:

*In all metro areas (including both center cities and suburbs), 58% of neighborhoods were middle income in 1970 but only 41% were middle income in 2000
*In center cities, the decline was from 45% in 1970 to 23% in 2000
*In suburbs, the decline was from 64% in 1970 to 44% in 2000

Check out Table 3 on page 6 of the study, which shows that Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pa., had the most middle class neighborhoods of 100 cities measured in 2000, while Los Angeles and New York were the most polarized between rich and poor neighborhoods.

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