Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 27, 2015

Economic Segregation in NYC and the USA

By David Reiss

Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander have released Segregated City: The Geography of Economic Segregation in America’s Metros. The executive summary reads,

Americans have become increasingly sorted over the past couple of decades by income, education, and class. A large body of research has focused on the dual migrations of more affluent and skilled people and the less advantaged across the United States. Increasingly, Americans are sorting not just between cities and metro areas, but within them as well.
This study examines the geography of economic segregation in America. While most previous studies of economic segregation have generally focused on income, this report examines three dimensions of economic segregation: by income, education, and occupation. It develops individual and combined measures of income, educational, and occupational segregation, as well as an Overall Economic Segregation Index, and maps them across the more than 70,000 Census tracts that make up America’s 350-plus metros. In addition, it examines the key economic, social, and demographic factors that are associated with them. (8)
Although it reads like a jeremiad at times, there is a lot of thought-provoking information in this report. For instance, it examines “the segregation of the three major occupational classes—the creative class of knowledge workers, the even faster growing but lower-paid service class, and the declining blue-collar working class.” (36) It shows that there is a lot of segregation of these classes. This is unsurprising given the correlation between occupational class and income.
As a New Yorker, I immediately focused on the findings relevant to NYC. The report finds that the New York Metro area exhibits a high degree of economic segregation. This is not surprising, but it is interesting to learn where it stands vis a vis other large metro areas — it is sixth highest in the country.
I am not sure what the policy implications are of this report, but it does tell a tale of two cities in one place, one rich and one poor.
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