Income Inequality Across U.S. Metropolitan Areas

About the chart
Propel L.A. Analysis summarized levels of income inequality, measured by the Gini index, across the United States.  We discovered that income inequality in the central city of a metropolitan region is almost always higher than its respective county as a whole.

Atlanta, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, as well as their respective counties, exhibited the highest rates of income inequality in 2017.  The City and County of Los Angeles ranked 18th and 12th for most unequal, respectively.

What is the Gini index?
The Gini index (also known as the Gini ratio and coefficient) is a summary of income inequality income (U.S. Census Bureau, January 2016).  The Gini index is a number from 0 to 1 that represents the income inequality level in a region.  A Gini index of 0 expresses perfect equality where everyone receives an equal share.  A Gini index of 1 expresses perfect inequality where only one person receives all the income and the rest receives none.

Why do we care?
Gini index is negatively correlated with improved social indicators, economic growth, and political bipartisanship.  Social indicators refer to measures that describe human well-being, covering a full range of issues, including educational attainment, unemployment, crimes, teenage pregnancy, and life expectancy.  Therefore, low Gini index benefits our society, economy, and democracy. For more details on how inequality affects our society, economy, and democracy, please read the OECD’s report titled “In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All” (May 2015).

Propel L.A. empowers organizations and volunteers to fulfill the equity-centered goals and strategies of the 2016-2020 Countywide Strategic Plan.