News & Politics

NYC Income Gap Is the Widest in the U.S.


The richest 1% of New York City controls 44% of all income, “a share nearly four times as great as 30 years ago,” according to new financial figures reported in the Gotham Gazette. “As Incomes Gap Widens, New York Grows Apart” tells of the expansive chasm between the city’s residents, who have long mourned the death of the middle class; numbers make it sting more. And it wasn’t always so bad, like say from the 1940s through the 1970s: “In 1947, the top 1 percent received 12 percent of the total, and three decades later, in 1978, that remained about the same — actually slightly lower — at 9 percent.” Now, you’re poor, almost definitely!

Via the Gotham Gazette, based on a recent report from the Fiscal Policy Institute:

In New York City in 1980, the share of all incomes going to the top 1 percent was 12 percent — more or less in line with the rest of the U.S. But by 1990 the top 1 percent’s share in New York City had risen to almost 20 percent, and after a period of extreme concentration in the late 1990s reached nearly 35 percent in 2000. The 2001-2003 recession briefly pushed the top share down, but then it gained at its fastest pace over the past 30 years, climbing to 44 percent in 2007, almost double the historically high national level of 23.5 percent.

New York State is the most polarized among the 50 states, and New York City is the most polarized among the 25 largest cities in the United States.

Those numbers look something like this:

The top 5% includes incomes from $176,000 to $580,000, while the top 1% from $580,000 and up, both of which grew at a faster pace than other income levels from 1980 until 2007, with the highest incomes increasing by 7% annually. Meanwhile, minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) fell 8.6% in the last two decades.

More sadness:

In New York City, there are about 34,500 households, representing about 90,000 people, in the top 1 percent. On average, these households have annual incomes of $3.7 million. At the same time, about 900,000 people in New York City — about 10.5 percent of city residents — live in deep poverty. Deep poverty is half of the federal poverty line; for a four-person family, that means an income of $10,500. An annual income of $3.7 million translates into a daily level of $10,137 — more than the average annual family income of those living in deep poverty.

If you can stomach the rest, it’s here. [Gotham Gazette]

Related: “The Numbers Beyond the Bling” by Ward Harkavy

Archive Highlights