Income inequality has been a serious issue in the U.S. for many years now. The coronavirus pandemic has not only very clearly exposed the income inequalities across the country, but it has also blatantly displayed the devastating effects of such inequality. For a great exposition of these effects, I encourage you to read Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about it by Heather Boushey. I am starting to research further into the inequality in San Antonio and the other major metropolitan areas across Texas. I will document this research here but thought I would begin by sharing the findings of one study that delves deeply into the issue across states, metropolitan areas, and counties.
One of the first studies I discovered in this research is a report published by the Economic Policy Institute in 2018, “The New Gilded Age: Income Inequality in the U.S. by State, Metropolitan Area, and County,” by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price (https://www.epi.org/publication/the-new-gilded-age-income-inequality-in-the-u-s-by-state-metropolitan-area-and-county/#epi-toc-4). They calculate income inequality as the ratio of the average income of the top 1% to the average income of the bottom 99%. In this report, they provide the numbers for 2015. The level of income inequality by this measure in the major metropolitan areas of Texas and the state are provided in the following table.
In the table, a lower ratio indicates a lower level of inequality. Of the major metropolitan areas in Texas, El Paso has the lowest level of inequality with a ratio of 13.6, and it is the only MSA with a ratio below the median of all metropolitan areas in the country. San Antonio has the second lowest ratio at 20.4, which is higher than the median of 15.5. Houston has the highest level of inequality with a ratio of 25.5, but this is just slightly higher than Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. The ratio of income inequality in Texas is 24.2, which is higher than the ratio of the median state (South Carolina) at 19.7 but lower than inequality in the U.S. with a ratio of 26.3.
These figures only show inequality as of 2015 by this one measure. I will explore the changes in inequality over time, as well as look at it by other measures.