As if rising income inequality in this country isn't already a front burner debate, now we learn that Tampa again ranks in the top ten "most unequal" larger cities in America.
Among cities with 250,000 populations or more, Tampa ranks No. 8 nationwide for being unequal. What does that mean? A Bloomberg analysis ranked the top ten cities as unequal based on how skewed the incomes in those metro areas are between the rich and the poor. These cities tend to have big pockets of wealth, larger areas of poverty and a relatively thin middle class.
The ranking uses a well known statistical measure known as the "Gini coefficient" calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau. The measure is named for statistician and demographer Corrado Gini and gauges the distribution of income among individuals in an economy.
A Gini index of zero means absolute equality. An index of one means complete inequality. The index rises closer to one when there are concentrations of people at the highest and lowest ends of the income spectrum but fewer people in the middle. Tampa ranked 8th because its Gini coefficient ranks just below 0.55 on a scale of 1. New Orleans, considered the most unequal of U.S. cities, was measured at just under 0.6 on the same scale.
Geographically, the top ten are widespread. Two are in Florida (Tampa and Miami), four are in the Southeast, seven are Sunbelt cities, two are in the Northeast (New York and Boston), while one is in California (Los Angeles) and one in the Midwest (Cincinnati). All ten are cities with significant minority populations.
The latest Bloomberg ranking builds on similar findings last year, no surprise given that income inequality does not change quickly. Last year's ranking of the 50 most unequal cities in the country included five from Florida, the most of any state. They were Tampa, Miami, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. Atlanta placed No. 1 nationwide last year.
The United States as a whole, said Bloomberg, has become more unequal over the past five years. Its Gini index rose to 0.48 last year from 0.469 in 2009. But the trend really stretches back to the 1980s.
"The overall story is that inequality has been rising steadily for about the past three decades," Beth Jarosz of the Population Reference Bureau told Bloomberg News.
Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.