[Marxism] New York: the new Rio

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 29 12:43:45 MDT 2007

NY Times, August 29, 2007
New York’s Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Nation’s Widest, Census Says

 From 2005 to 2006, the rich grew richer in the New York region and the 
poor, over all, remained poor, producing the widest income gap of any 
major metropolitan area, according to census figures released yesterday.

In the counties of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that make up the 
metropolitan area, the top one-fifth of earners made nearly 20 times 
what the bottom fifth earned, according to the first such detailed 
measure of local income inequality by the Census Bureau.

“New York stands out, ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and other 
large metros, which attract both high- and low-income people,” said 
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

In Manhattan, the disparity was especially wide. The wealthiest 20 
percent of Manhattanites made nearly 40 times more than the poorest 20 
percent — $351,333, on average, compared with $8,855, a bigger gap than 
in any other county.

Even so, Manhattan’s wealthiest were outdone by residents of suburban 
Fairfield County, Conn. There, the top fifth made $362,103, and the top 
5 percent earned $746,726. That compared with $710,116 for the top 5 
percent of Manhattan earners and $415,442 for the top 5 percent in the 
New York region as a whole — also the highest of any major metropolitan 

In New York City, the actual number of poor people counted by the census 
increased from 2005 to 2006, in part because the latest tally included 
residents of shelters and similar group housing. But among families and 
their children — categories not affected by the counting change — the 
poverty rate appeared to have declined slightly since a peak in 2004.

In Manhattan, the poverty rate among children dropped sharply — to 27 
percent from 32.5 percent. City officials boasted about the decline. But 
one reason for it may be that poor children’s parents can no longer 
afford housing in Manhattan, and they are being replaced by wealthier 

Over all, the poverty rate in the city was 19.1 percent, about where it 
had been for the previous six years, which meant that about one in five 
New Yorkers lived below the official poverty line, defined by the 
federal government as $20,650 for a family of four.

Median income in the city barely budged, to $46,480 in 2006, 
statistically only slightly higher than the adjusted $44,835 recorded 
the year before.

Reflecting the region’s vast income disparities, New York was again the 
only state in which both the poverty rate and the median household 
income surpassed the national average.

New Jersey had the second highest household income, at $64,470, behind 
Maryland. But the poverty rate in Camden, N.J., at 35.6 percent, was 
also among the nation’s highest.

On a different measure, median family income, Connecticut led the nation 
at $78,154. But the poverty rate in Hartford was 30.3 percent.

In the South Bronx, just across the Harlem River from Manhattan, the 
poverty rate among children was 54 percent.

At $59,281, the metropolitan area slipped from 9th to 10th in median 
household income, with Seattle leapfrogging ahead. Metropolitan New York 
ranked 4th among whites, 10th among blacks, 12th among Asians and 25th 
among Hispanics in median income.

New York City’s steady poverty rate was in contrast to a national 
decline. Analysts as diverse as Steve Malanga of the Manhattan 
Institute, a conservative research group, and David R. Jones of the 
Community Service Society, a liberal advocacy group, agreed that 
competition for low-wage jobs in the city, many of them filled by 
immigrants, depressed their income.

“We haven’t seen much movement at all in terms of diminishing poverty,” 
said Mr. Jones, the society’s president.

Mr. Malanga, a senior fellow at the institute, cited some declines — in 
the poverty rate for families, to 16.3 percent in 2006 from 16.7 percent 
the year before, and among households headed by women, to 30.4 percent 
from 31.2 percent. But he agreed that the city’s “economic rebound has 
tended to be at the high end, and our poverty levels are not going down 
as fast as at the national level.”

Commenting on the decline in the number of poor people in Manhattan, 
Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against 
Hunger, said, “It is clear that low- and middle-income New Yorkers are 
being priced out of Manhattan and that poor people are being driven to 
the outer boroughs and the suburbs.”

The poverty rate rose in Rockland and Putnam Counties, but it was 
unclear how much of the increase was attributable to the change in how 
the numbers were counted.

The census also measured the proportion of people without health 
insurance coverage. The number declined in New York, to 13.2 percent, 
and in Connecticut, to 10.4 percent, and rose slightly in New Jersey, to 
14.6 percent.

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