New study: San Francisco has second highest inequality in United States

Map courtesy of Brookings Institution

San Francisco has the second highest gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution released today. 
The study looked at US Census data across different income levels and ranked cities for not only the widening chasm between the rich and the poor, but also the speed at which that gap increased. Though San Francisco has the second widest income inequality gap (second to Atlanta, where the poor are poorer, but the rich far less rich than here), it's tops in terms of the speed at which the wealthy are pulling away from the rest of us, the study found.

"Not surprisingly, San Francisco experienced the largest increase in its ratio from 2007 to 2012," the Brookings Institution reported. "Income for its typical 20th-percentile household dropped $4,000 during that period, while income for its typical 95th-percentile household soared by $28,000. No other city saw nearly as large an increase in its rich households’ incomes."


San Francisco was second place for highest inequality, but tops in terms of speed at which the income gap widened.

San Francisco differed from other cities in the unique nature of its inequality as well -- for the most part, we're unequal because our rich got richer, while other cities' poor got poorer. "San Francisco’s ratio is high because its wealthy households have very high incomes, considerably higher than in any other major city ($353,000 at the 95th percentile)," Brookings Institution reported. And as anyone who's looked for an apartment in San Francisco has seen, the poor and middle class are also getting pushed out of the city, which the study also noted.

So why is all this such a problem? Can't everyone just move to Oakland? The study also noted the problems inherent in a city with a wide income gap.

"A city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face many difficulties," the Brookings Institution noted. "It may struggle to maintain mixed-income school environments that produce better outcomes for low-income kids. It may have too narrow a tax base from which to sustainably raise the revenues necessary for essential city services. And it may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families, so that those who move up or down the income ladder ultimately have no choice but to move out."

These are problems the city knows all too well. As the San Francisco Public Press reported recently, our public school system is increasingly divided between haves and have-nots, and as the Guardian reported only this week, our infrastructure funding is lacking by billions of dollars. And of course, as our families flee the city, San Francisco loses its children in droves, which US Census data has also highlighted. 

Read the full report from on San Francisco's widening income gap here.



taxes on landlords?

That is such a fantastic idea.

If a person owns a rent controlled property the city should try and maintain the same level of tax burden.

Parasites try and find new ways to live off the host, the host will always be one step ahead. There will be unintended consequences to schemes as there have always been, then you will need a host of new laws.

Posted by guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

and the city has no control over the federal and state tax deductions for mortgage interest, property tax, depreciation and so forth.

You can try and regulate AirBnB just because it happens to be HQ'ed in SF. But of course if you did, they might move. And the city cannot regulate similar businesses located elsewhere.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Much of it comes from or is encapsulated in this book

This has become somewhat of a bible for people with an agenda.

Here is page by the author of the book debunking the Spirit Level.

There are also youtube videos of the authors of the Spirit Level debating and making fools of themselves.

Posted by guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

The former is years of meticulous research. The latter is just a collection of political mantras.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

You responded at 2:20

Your pretense of authority gave me a good laugh.

Posted by guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

You're not the only one who has posted those links. I've discussed The Spirit Level numerous times on this forum, and Matlock (that is to say, probably you) loves to post the link to the other one because it fits with his worldview.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

this thread at 08:21 a.m. yesterday.

We will assume that is because you cannot.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

Trolls post a lot of bait. I don't have to respond to all of it.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

billionaire moves into your zip code, making it more unequal.

You claim inequality is wrong but you cannot identify any loss or harm caused by the fact that we have a few very rich people.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 8:41 am

The question we have for you is why do you care so much? You sound like you're rich, successful and probably not totally ugly. What is so lacking in your life that you post here so often and try to engage in conversations that no one cares to have with you? No friends? No political alliances? No parents or children for friendship to take the edge off your loneliness?

Greg is one of the more solid posters here. When he responds to trolls, baiters, and low-IQ posters like yourself he's wasting time that could be spent more productively. We understand insecure people are always looking for validation from others, even from their non-friends and enemies. But life's short and no one here has time to engage with your nonsense. Look around outside your bubble. The world is changing. The muppets in many countries are waking up and stretching their minds to better understand why the world is so economically skewed. Why California is so skewed. And why hyper rich towns like SF are so skewed. The next few years should be a fun, wild ride into political uncertainty, with flash mobs and new political demands being made weekly across the globe. It's time to get your mansion in Aspen ready.

Surely there are other websites where you can make better connections with people since I'm sure not seeing it happening here. Maybe take a break for a few months and do some reading or have some new experiences. It might help you enlarge your simple and obsessive mind, although I doubt it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

Which arguments does Greg make that makes him one of the more "solid posters" here? The ones where he goes off about Asians? Or when he voices his hatred of cops? Or the ones where he wants government to curtail free speech (as long as it's a government that he agrees with)? Maybe it's the one where he espouse his undying support of that bastion of democracy Venezuela and how the US should follow their economic policies (even though he would never move there).

Oh wait. I know. He's "solid" because he agrees with you.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

I like reading Greg's posts but I hardly agree with him on many topics. For example, I'm against many transit subsidies since I think they encourage sprawl and mainly benefit commercial landlords who are able to get thousands of corporate drones to their workplaces everyday, which greatly increases their rent income. Multi-millionaire commercial landlords should be paying for the benefit of transit, not homeowners (bonds) or consumers (sales taxes). He had a recent post stating that transit should be mostly free. I understand the viewpoint, but I don't agree unless it's the commercial landlords and large corporations paying for the transit.

Greg is respected here because he is thoughtful, writes clearly with a point of view, and does't waste much energy talking to low-lifers like yourself. Doesn't Ed Lee or SPUR have a fundraiser tonight where you can mill around with all of the city's economic winners? Why are you wasting time here with people you call losers?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

Saying that the US should emulate the economic policies of a country with 50% annual inflation is "thoughtful"? I guess that's a clear point of view, albeit an idiotic one.

And I already went. It was great. We listened to opera, had champagne, smoked cigars lit with $100 bills, ate shark fin, and took turns tazing a homeless person.
All while laughing and twirling our mustaches evilly.

Don't you have a Google bus to block while tweeting on your iPhone about the "evil tech industry"? If not, why the hell are you taking so long to make my mocha? Chop chop!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

The problems in Venezuela are merely the result of a lack of White Progressives to oversee things and tell the natives what they want. Hint: not toilet paper.

Posted by Pol Potty-Mouth on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 9:07 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

Why is he poorer just because someone else succeeds and becomes wealthy?

The result is more inequality but nobody is harmed.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

As rich people move into a neighborhood, businesses are compelled to raise their prices to whatever the market will bear; compelled not simply by greed, but because If they do not other businesses which *are* willing to cater to the most successful money grabbers will displace them over time.

Property taxes also go up based on average property values, so as wealthy make improvements on their homes, others are forced to pay higher taxes.

As poor people are displaced, businesses which survived by catering to them are deprived of their customer base, leading to a cycle of decline and increasing costs for the poor. (Remembering that cheap Chinese restaurant that used to be where the fancy one is now.)

*real lillipublicans or fake: reader must decide.

Posted by lillipublicans* on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 10:41 am

person may have to move from B to A. But the net overall difference is nothing.

Again, if your neighbor wins the lottery and becomes rich, how are you harmed?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 11:06 am

The troll will continue to spew the same nonsensical question over and over again and complain of "not getting an answer," but when an answer is given, the troll pretends that the answer means something completely different from what it means--or makes some false equivalency suggesting the question was different from the one answered.

If a person is "forced to move from B to A" they lose their rent control; they incur the costs of moving; and they are deprived of their neighborhood friends and social life; this latter being the most psychologically destructive. But the troll comes out with some glib nonsense to avoid the fact that the question has been asked and answered.

The rich getting richer makes the poor poorer. Every time.

*lillipublicans: real or fake?

Posted by lillipublicans* on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

desirable, you still have not shown how a billionaire buying the home next to you displaces you.

If you have rent control then you will continue to have it. Your rich neighbor doesn't take that away from you.

Greg has ducked the question because he knows it debunks his entire position that inequality causes him harm. It does not.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

arriving in SF somehow wants to buy the unit that some low-income tenant is living in.

There is zero evidence for that, and so zero evidence for the idea that inequality causes any harm other than self-pitying envy.

We have more rich people here, we build more market-rate homes for them. and life goes on the same for the rest of us.

If Greg were correct then, if all successful people moved to Switzerland, the rest of us would somehow be wealthier. How so?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

"Zero social mobility" nothing anybody has advocated either directly or indirectly.

I have already shown how too many billionaires moving next door displaces poor people--not that it will do any good against these trolls.

There are these same sort of trolls on the winger website I frequent nowadays.

They are not the sort that is willing to engage in serious debate, but rather they are either paid to sow ignorance and dissent across the left-right divide; or else they are willing dupes excercising their psychopathic predilections in the service of the powers elite without pay. I believe there are similar trolls who argue from "left wing" perspective, such as those who unneccessarily disparage the religious faith which most people have (without feeling the need to inflict their beliefs on others).

This troll is here to create a sense of frustration, but knowledge of that is an adequate shield from its effects.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

And you, dear lillipublicans, are the biggest troll on this site. Besides - aren't you dead yet?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

"troll barrier" posts removed en masse by SFBG moderators, who allow almost anything

Lilli is the biggest troll here which is why we all ignore him

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

displaces anyone. You have simply made that wild claim without citing any evidence, and hoped that we would buy it. We don't. A billionaire won't want your rathole of a rental unit.

I love it when you call me a troll because that tells everyone that you have no argument or defense. That is why you resort to cheap personal attacks.

The idea that inequality causes harm is a myth, except insofar as those who lack meaning in their lives react to that with envy and jealousy.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

Can there be any disputing that? Not without more of the same BS to follow, anyway.

Posted by lillipublicans* on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 10:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:57 am

"I agree with the authors so their opinions are factual, I don't agree with the debunkers so their opinions are based in bias"

Posted by guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 1:03 am

If we just hurry up and displace all the stinking rent control crybaby's with Ellis acts and replace then with decent high paid people, then no more glaring income inequity ! PROBLEM SOLVED ! We all live happily ever after ! Go to where you are wanted and will not exacerbate the income inequality you poor people.... DETROIT !

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

Or Cuba.... you can have nothing but some rice and beans like everyone else....

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

How do you think a billionaire made his money. Did he or she work long hours, clean bathrooms in their business. Did they do the leg work. Did they treat their employees the same way they treated themselves. Did they give themselves million dollar bonuses and raises while cutbacks on employee health benefits.

Do the millionaires and billionaires have 100% all medical, dental, and other benefits for themselves and their entire family, while their employees have less than half of the same benefits for their family.

You may talk about the poor and middle class, And your mentality may be. I won this business, I'm going to take 90% of all funds from my business, that leaves 10% to give to my workers. That means I'll have to cut their benefits again, I'll cut their sick days, because employees can be replaced. So what their child needs medical attention, it's not my child. I can't give my employees 90% of what I want to keep. 10 % is what they get and if they don't like it, I'll find someone to replace them.

That is the mentality of the billionaires, millionaires, high payed politicians etc. That is their mind frame. But we cannot waste time on the WHY. Just think that this is temporary and will be reversed once we go to heaven.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2014 @ 6:38 am

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