Issue 5

Income Inequality, City by City

Income inequality is growing in the United States. This is a broad trend that affects communities very differently, so I broke it down by cities in the Bay Area to make it more approachable.

Data from the 2000 Census and 2014 American Community Survey enables a picture to be painted of both absolute household income distributions and its changing shape over time.

Note: Inflation suggests that incomes should skew towards higher brackets, but inflation alone would skew the charts more evenly. Data is not published separately between $100-125k and $125-150k, so those buckets are combined.

The larger cities don’t spike as much as the small cities, but that doesn’t mean they’re equal. San Francisco’s income inequality is deepening as can be seen by the “U” shape developing in 2014.
Oakland and Berkeley are both undergoing dramatic shifts from lower to higher incomes. Vallejo and Santa Rosa are shifting towards higher incomes in a similar way while maintaining a large base of low income households.
Change in distribution of household incomes ($1,000)
2014 vs 1999

The Census is known for counting everyone in the US, but they also collect a range of demographic data such as income, age, race, and religion. The Numeracy Standard library exposes some of these variables for simple analysis here.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any comments or questions. See you in a couple weeks.


Thanks to Brian Smith and Tony Grue for their help with this post.

46.87 is a regular exploration of San Francisco Bay Area data by Joshua Jenkins in partnership with Numeracy.