Seattle isn't as unequal as you might think, and it comes in strong as a prosperous large city.
If we needed another reminder of how good Seattle has it compared with most American cities, here comes the latest Distressed Communities Index from the Economic Innovation Group, a research and advocacy non-profit. Seattle ranks as the seventh most prosperous city among 100 rated.
The index is based on a ZIP-code level analysis of seven 2016 indicators: the poverty rate, housing vacancy rate, adults not working, median income ratio, change in business establishments and change in employment. The rankings are prosperous, comfortable, mid-tier, at risk and distressed.
Indeed, Seattle comes out even better among actual peers. After San Francisco, it is No. 2 among real cities on the top 10 most prosperous list, which also includes Austin and San Jose. Otherwise, the leaders are high-end suburbs, such as Gilbert, Ariz., and Plano, Texas.
Only 2.2 percent of Seattle’s population lives in distressed ZIP codes. Nearly 53 percent live in prosperous ones. On inequality, Seattle ranks 45 out of 100 cities.
The most distressed cities are some you would expect: Cleveland, Newark, Buffalo and Detroit. But the poorest performers weren’t confined to the Rust Belt. Stockton, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz., made the top 10 most distressed list, too. San Antonio ranks highest on “spatial inequality” — the degree to which well-being diverges across neighborhoods in the same city.
One conclusion is that inequality is rising among cities. It was made worse by the Great Recession and the tech-winning recovery, but also by structural problems going back decades.
An ideal city is hard to find in a four-panel diagram. Seattle sits just inside the “prosperous and unequal” box. Most cities, including New York and Washington D.C., are in the “distressed and unequal” box. “Prosperous and equal” only holds nine localities, all of them exclusive suburbs except for Madison, Wis., and Virginia Beach, Va.
You can read the report here and explore by city, ZIP code and state.
Today’s Econ Haiku:
What’s my credit score?
Have it for hackers