New census data shows widening income gap

Posted by U.S. Census Bureau on January 12, 2015

New data on the Philadelphia metropolitan area recently released by the US Census Bureau indicates that that the gap between wealth and poverty in the region is growing larger.

According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the new census data shows that in Philadelphia’s impoverished Fairhill section, residents have median household incomes of $14,185 a year – one-twelfth that of the richest region in the area, Chester County’s Birmingham Township.

The inequality in income in the region mirrors what’s going on throughout the country, according to experts consulted by the Inquirer.

“People live such incredibly different lives so close together,” said Judith Levine, sociology professor at Temple University. “Inequality is going up so much. These are very depressing numbers.”

Fairhill, the poorest neighborhood in Philadelphia, has a poverty rate of 57 percent.

To understand income trends in the region, The Inquirer compared the current American Community Survey with statistics from the 2000 Census. All income levels in the examination were adjusted to 2013 dollars.

The Inquirer examination shows that Northern Liberties was the city neighborhood whose median income increased more than any other — 65 percent between the 2000 Census and the 2009-13 American Community Survey. Median incomes rose from $29,499 to $48,798.

Conversely, the Wynnefield/ Overbrook neighborhood registered the largest decrease in median income during that same time, from $42,087 to $27,914.
Philadelphia overall had a median income of $37,192 in the current survey, a drop of 13.5 percent from 1999.

In New Jersey, the highest median income was registered in Harrison, Gloucester County, at $126,187, while the lowest was in Camden, at $26,202.

To read the full Inquirer report, go here.

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