Boston's High Income Inequality Ranking Is a Challenge for Mayor Walsh
The Brookings Institution released a study this week on the rising tide of income inequality in many American cities.
Sadly, Boston was shown to be the fourth most unequal city in the US - behind Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami.
The rankings were generated using a simple calculation called the "95/20 ratio" - which according to the study:
"... represents the income at which a household earns more than 95 percent of all other households, divided by the income at which a household earns more than only 20 percent of all other households. In other words, it represents the distance between a household that just cracks the top 5 percent by income, and one that just falls into the bottom 20 percent. Over the past 35 years, members of the former group have generally experienced rising incomes, while those in the latter group have seen their incomes stagnate."
In Boston, the income that represents the top of that bottom 20 percent of wage earners is $14,604 a year. And the income that represents the bottom of the top 5 percent of wage earners is $223,838.
Interestingly, Boston is one of the cities where the rich got a little bit more poor between 2007 and 2012, and the poor got much poorer - while inequality got worse.
This describes in numbers what we've seen at Open Media Boston since we launched in March 2008. The situation has gotten harder and harder for poor working people in Boston as the recession hit and deepened. And social program after social program got level funded or cut at all levels of government. While the needs of wealthy were pandered to across the board.
None of this is a new development. The rolling destruction of public-spirited policy initiatives has been going on since the early 1970s.
But this latest study demonstrating the obvious is certainly an occasion to remind Boston's new mayor, Martin Walsh, that he has an opportunity to distinguish himself from his predecessor by doing everything he can to lower income inequality in the region during his tenure in office.
So he should consider himself reminded.