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This City Has the Highest Income Inequality in the US, Report Says

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The United Nations’ Sustainable Global Goals aim to end poverty by 2030. US Census Bureau data can be used to see where income inequality is the worst. Please join us in taking action on this issue here. 

Atlanta is the city with the greatest income disparity in the US, Bloomberg reports. 

Bloomberg ranked big cities with populations of at least 250,000 based on a ratio measuring distribution of household income among individuals. 

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"Every city has some of these economic extremes. Atlanta just has them in spades," Alan Berube, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program told Bloomberg

"At the high end, it looks like one of the most successful American cities, like a San Francisco or a New York or a Washington. But at its low end, one of America’s poor cities," Berube said of the home to many Fortune 500 companies including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola. 

Many residents work low-paying hospitality and retail jobs in Atlanta, where the poverty rate is 24%, or one in four people, the US Census Bureau reports. 

Approximately 40 million Americans currently live below the poverty line, which is $12,140 for a single adult and $24,600 for a family of four. About 18% of households earn $150,000 a year or more compared with 9.3% of households who make less than $10,000 annually in the southern city.

Read More: US Income Inequality Is So Bad That Now the UN Is Taking Action

Atlanta jumped from being the city with the second highest inequality for three years in a row, to the first in 2017. Miami previously held the top spot in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, New Orleans became the US city with the second greatest income disparity and Philadelphia climbed 17 spots to the third.

The United Nations found in 2017 that the US had the second highest rate of poverty among the world’s richest countries. Additional research suggests families need to earn twice the federal poverty line to comfortably afford basic needs like housing, food and health care. 

One economist, Daron Acemoglu, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said creating new employment opportunities and improving workers’ skills will eventually help close the income inequality gap, but it won’t happen overnight. Acemoglu attributed the city’s rank to job automation made possible by technology, and globalization which has hit lower skill workers the hardest.