NYC is looked as the model to emulate in regards to a vibrant and successful city. Yet, recent reports are pointing to an income gap that continues to grow larger and larger in the Big Apple. Once seen as the place to go to make it big on Broadway, Wall Street, or just in general, lately it seems to have become a city of glaring opposites: the rich and the poor.
This Forbes article is a follow up to a study that claimed the middle class is leaving and will no longer cease to exist in the Big Apple. Can NYC survive with less diversity, especially in regards to income? Here is an excerpt from the article:
Worst of all, the rise of inequality in these high-cost blue cities seems to be connected to policy decisions. High taxes and strict regulations have expelled relatively well-paying blue collar jobs in manufacturing and warehousing from expensive urban areas. Without them, an extremely bifurcated economy and society forms because no traditional ladders for upward mobility remain; they are critical to a successful urbanity.
Back in the 1960s, Jane Jacobs predicted that Latino immigrants to New York, mainly from Puerto Rico, would inevitably make "a fine middle class." Yet four decades later, in the Bronx, the city's most heavily Latino county, roughly one in three households lives in poverty--the highest rate of any urban county in the nation.
At the other extreme, in Manhattan, where the rich are concentrated, the disparities between socioeconomic classes have been rising steadily. In 1980, the borough ranked 17th among the nation's counties for social inequality; today it ranks first, with the top fifth of wage earners earning 52 times that of the lowest fifth, a disparity roughly comparable to that of Namibia.
To an old-fashioned Truman Democrat like me, this is bad news. But some modern-day "progressives," like Richard Florida, celebrate the concentration of rich people. They see them as guarantors that places like New York will be the winners of the post-crash economy. The losers? Goods-producing regions of the Great Plains, the industrial Midwest and, of course, those unenlightened, suburban middle-class people.
Is it time we rethink our current models and come up with new approaches to how we create vibrant and livable cities. I believe quality of life seems to be at the core of many issues, yes, Richard Florida is right that economics plays a key role. While I don't buy the creative class argument, the clustering of the rich will slowly work to deteriorate our cities and leave them as playgrounds for the well to do.