Atlanta has earned the unflattering title of being tops in the nation for income inequality for the second year in a row, according to a report on Tuesday from the Brookings Institution.
The Washington, D.C.-based think tank found that Atlanta again has the greatest divide between households in the 20th percentile of earnings compared to those making more than 95 percent of the population.
In Atlanta, top households made more than 19 times what those near the bottom make. Atlanta households in the 95th percentile earned about $288,000, while households at the 20th earned about $15,000.
The gap in Atlanta was wider than the income spread in other top cities, such as San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York.
The report is based on 2012 and 2013 data from U.S. Census Bureau.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office took issue issue with the report, saying it does not address underlining historical factors such as racial discrimination.
City Hall has raised the minimum wage for municipal jobs and the mayor also has been an active recruiter for new private investment and jobs.
Jenna Garland, a Reed spokeswoman, said the mayor campaigned for Clayton’s membership in MARTA, and “expanding transit access is an important strategy in addressing income inequality.”
Garland also noted the city’s recent recruitment of the headquarters of NCR from Gwinnett County. That project will bring high-paying jobs into the city, she said, and indirect job creation from construction and other investments.
The city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, “is working on multiple strategies to address the different economic factors that contribute to income inequality, including a housing strategy and incentives for startup technology firms to launch and stay in Atlanta,” Garland said.
The report comes as income inequality has captured the attention of both major political parties, though the sides have different viewpoints of how to fix the issue.
Campaigns have been launched in cities and states nationwide to increase the minimum wage. The AFL-CIO, the federation of labor groups, recently held a key meeting in Atlanta and pitched union membership as an antidote to inequality.
“These findings confirm that income inequality remains a salient issue in many big cities today,” the report’s authors said. “Moreover, they lend support to the concern that rising incomes at the top of the distribution are not—at least in the short term—lifting earnings near the bottom, even in local markets.”
The Brookings report examines the 50 largest U.S. cities, and found that cities have more uneven income splits than the national average. In the Top 50 cities overall, folks in the 95th percentile of earnings made 11.6 times as much as households in the 20th percentile.