The 25 Most Unequal Cities In America

bush midland

Photo: ap

America’s third-world-esque income gap is wide and getting wider.But in some cities the disparity is especially bad, according to Census data. We picked out the 25 metro areas where the top quintile has the greatest share of the income.

Many of these cities are liberal college towns in poor rural areas. Others are retirement hotspots in again, poor rural areas. Four of the top 10 are in Texas, including George W. Bush’s Midland.

First off, here's the national average. Pretty bad. Now check out 25 cities that are even worse...

The top quintile gets 50.3% of the income.

Source: Census

#25 Missoula, Mt. metro area

The top quintile gets 51.5% of the income.

The most liberal city in the state, dominated by students from the University of Montana. But long-time Missoulans are mostly poor: 80% of students at one elementary school live in poverty.

Source: Census

#23 Charleston, W.V. metro area

The top quintile gets 51.7% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 24.2% of the income.

Claims to be the cultural, recreational, and business capital of the Appalachian Mountains. Outside the city, however, one finds the poverty that plagues rural West Virginia.

Source: Census

#22 Prescott, Ariz. metro area

The top quintile gets 51.7% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 24.3% of the income.

Arizona's 'Christmas City' has a large district of expensive, Victorian-style homes. But rural areas are poor, typical of the second poorest state in the Union.

Source: Census

#21 Ithaca, N.Y. metro area

The top quintile gets 51.8% of the income.

Home to Ithaca College and Ivy League university Cornell. Also a popular vacation spot near the Finger Lakes.

Just outside Ithaca, however, are levels of poverty and unemployment typical to upstate New York.

Source: Census

#20 Trenton, N.J. metro area

The top quintile gets 51.9% of the income.

Plenty of business people live in Trenton, often commuting to NYC or Philadelphia. But many neighborhoods are blighted and high in crime. The city's manufacturing base has declined since the 1960s.

Source: Census

#19 El Centro, Calif. metro area

The top quintile gets 52% of the income.

Home to America's highest unemployment rate at 30.4%. The city is 75% Hispanic and many of the unemployed are migrant workers. For farm and business owners, however, high unemployment means cheap labour costs.

Source: Census

#18 Auburn, Ala. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.1% of the income.

Another rich town in a poor county. Auburn is the home of Auburn University and one of the top 10 places to live, according to US News.

Source: Census

#17 Greenville, N.C. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.2% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 22.4% of the income.

Greenville is the home of East Carolina University and a great place to start a business, according to Forbes. Outside this small city, however, is the endemic poverty of eastern NC.

Source: Census

#16 Port St. Lucie, Fla. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.2% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 25.3% of the income.

Port St. Lucie is a retirement mecca, featuring the 54-hole PGA Village. It also hits Florida's top five for unemployment and foreclosures.

Source: Census

#15 Jonesboro, Ark. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.2% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 25.1% of the income.

Jonesboro is college town and the region's most progressive city. But the city has a high poverty rate and North Jonesboro is known for high unemployment and blighted housing projects.

Source: Census

#14 McAllen, Texas metro area

The top quintile gets 52.4% of the income.

McAllen has the highest rate of suburban poverty in the country.

But nevermind the neighbours: Forbes called the border city one of America's strongest housing markets. The tallest building is a bank, Chase Tower.

Source: Census

#13 Lawrence, Kansas metro area

The top quintile gets 52.6% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 22.6% of the income.

Thanks to the University of Kansas, Lawrence is an unusually liberal city with many organic stores, bookstores and laws promoting gay rights.

The surrounding area is impoverished, like most of rural Kansas.

Source: Census

#12 Sebastian, Fla. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.6% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The top 5% gets 24.8% of the income.

Another retirement mecca blighted with foreclosures, claiming America's highest home discount rate at the height of the recession.

Source: Census

#11 Athens, Ga. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.7% of the income.

Another rich college town, home of the University of Georgia. Athens was named one of Kiplinger's best cities in the country based on criteria like have 32% of the workforce in the creative class.

But the county is poor, with 1 in 4 kids living in poverty and a graduation rate 13% below state average, according to Partners For A Prosperous Athens.

Source: Census

#10 Miami, Fla. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.9% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The bottom quintile gets 3.1% of the income.

A famous real estate hot spot and party city. But the innercity is filled with poor immigrants in Little Havana and Little Haiti.

Source: Census

#9 New York, N.Y. metro area

The top quintile gets 52.9% of the income.

TIEBREAKER: The bottom quintile gets 2.7% of the income.

Home to Wall Street and over 50 billionaires, New York City is the wealth epicentre of America.

But the city of 19 million is also filled with poor people and immigrants, especially in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs.

Source: Census

#8 Brownsville, Texas metro area

The top quintile gets 53.5% of the income.

The 'on the border by the sea' city has a branch of the University of Texas and a booming market for port jobs.

It's also the poorest city in America, with a high immigrant population. Indeed, Brownsville was the poorest city in America back in 1993.

Source: Census

#7 Tyler, Texas metro area

The top quintile gets 54% of the income.

Tyler is home to America's largest rose-growing industry and a huge retirement community.

But the local poverty rate is among America's highest -- 25%.

Source: Census

#6 Midland, Texas metro area

The top quintile gets 54.6% of the income.

The childhood home and retirement home of George W. Bush. Oil is the biggest industry in Midland, creating wealth for the capitalists and low wages for the workers.

Source: Census

#5 College Station, Texas metro area

The top quintile gets 54.9% of the income.

Another Texas city and another college town, home to Texas A&M.

College Station jousts with Brownsville for the worst poverty rate in the state, also the country.

Source: Census

#4 Gainesville, Fla. metro area

The top quintile gets 55.3% of the income.

The home of the Florida Gators is a great town for people with money. It was named one of the best places to live and play by National Geographic Adventure, also named America's healthiest city by the Wellness Council of America.

There's also a poor rural community, including Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones.

Source: Census

#3 Naples, Fla. metro area

The top quintile gets 56.1% of the income.

Beautiful Naples has a large tourist economy and many rich retirees. The rest of the population is poor.

Source: Census

#2 Morgantown, W.Va. metro area

The top quintile gets 56.3% of the income.

The largest city, and thus wealth centre, in poor northwestern West Virginia.

Source: Census

#1 Bridgeport, Conn. metro area

The top quintile gets 57% of the income.

Bridgeport is the biggest and one of the poorest cities in Connecticut, home to a declining port and manufacturing industry.

Parts of the city are nice, however, and the same metro area includes are upperclass hotspots like Greenwich. These areas are a favourite residence of hedge fund billionaires like Steve Cohen and Ray Dalio.

Source: Census

So exactly how unequal is America? Check out...

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