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Gap Between Rich, Poor Growing in Chicago

By Paul Tooher

Some cities are more unequal in terms of income than others, according to a new study released by the Brookings Institution, Chicago has the eighth largest gap between rich and poor among the nation’s 50 largest cities.

In Chicago, the wealthiest 5 percent have an annual income of $201,460, nearly 13 times more than the poorest 20 percent who have an annual income of $16,078. The median rent in Chicago is $1,530.

And the gap in the Windy City grew between 2007 and 2012, the report stated.

According to the Brookings, “A city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face many difficulties. It may struggle to maintain mixed-income school environments that produce better outcomes for low-income kids. It may have too narrow a tax base from which to sustainably raise the revenues necessary for essential city services. And it may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families, so that those who move up or down the income ladder ultimately have no choice but to move out.”

Brookings found the largest income gap in Atlanta, where the wealthiest 5 percent earn 19 times more than the poorest 20 percent.

Other cities with an income gap greater than Chicago’s include San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City and Oakland, Calif. Los Angeles and Baltimore trail Chicago and round out the top 10.

The smallest income gap was found in Virginia Beach, Va., where the wealthiest 5 percent earn six times more than the poorest 20 percent.

Other cities with the lowest income inequality include Arlington, Texas; Mesa, Ariz.; Las Vegas; Wichita, Kan.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ft. Worth, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City.

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