Seattle is just one of many major American cities dealing with concerns about rising inequality and rapid gentrification. The big question is whether or not we're pushing the lower and middle class out of the city to make room for the wealthy. Brookings took annual income data from the American Community Survey and compared city income data from 2013 to national data for the same year in order to find out what the income distribution looked liked around the nation.
What they discovered was that while Seattle does indeed have a much greater lean towards the wealthy, it's still way more equally balanced than some of it's Eastside neighbors.
32 percent of Seattle residents make more than $100K compared to roughly 30 percent who make $40K or less. Compare that to Bellevue, where $100K+ earners make up 45 percent of the population to just 23 percent of $40K or less earners. Kirkland is closer to Seattle in terms of $200K+ earners but blows away both cities in terms of those in the $106,101 to $200,000 range.
Looking for places in Washington where income equality still reigns? Renton appears to be about as balanced as you're gonna get, with most of the income group somewhere between 15 and 22 percent, with a fairly small percentage of $200K+ earners. Tacoma skews more toward median income earners and low-income earners while Bellingham has a majority of earners in the $40K and under range.
Overall, it's unclear exactly how the data fits with historical numbers, though it does become clear that many smaller cities are probably closer to their larger counterparts than expected. Brookings also notes that households in Western cities have higher incomes than those nationwide. Locally, we can thank booming tech companies and development for driving up incomes and drawing higher income earners to the major hubs.
· How big (or small) is your city's middle class? [Brookings]