Los Angeles is among the top 10 U.S. cities for income inequality

Los Angeles is among the top 10 U.S. cities with the widest gulf between the rich and poor, a Washington think tank reported Thursday.

The upper 5% of Los Angeles residents earned more than 12 times what the bottom 20% took in, Alan Barube, who studies social policies affecting low-income families for the Brookings Institution, said in a paper. The income spread was similar in New York City, Washington, Oakland, Chicago and Baltimore, he added.

The inequality gap is even worse in San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami and Boston, where big earners made 15 times more than the bottom-income bracket, Barube said. His analysis was based on 2012 U.S. Census figures.


Barube said the findings have political implications in a period when President Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge” of our time. The issue of social mobility played a role in recent mayoral races from Boston to Minneapolis, Barube wrote.

Cities where the rich are very rich and the poor very poor will have trouble sustaining a mixed-income school system that helps low-income students close the educational gap and could find middle-class workers and families forced out, hurting the tax base, Barube said.


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Twitter: @geholland