Fighting Wage Inequality

I would like to briefly discuss findings that were outlined in a study by the Economic Innovation Group, a new nonprofit research and advocacy organization in the New York Times recently. Their findings depict that of a polarized look into the nation’s growing inequality. For example, from 2010 to 2013, employment in the most prosperous neighborhoods in the United States jumped by more than a fifth, according to the group’s analysis of Census Bureau data. However, in the bottom-ranked neighborhoods, the number of jobs fell sharply.

While the problems in many poorer cities predate the recession, recovery has been felt by Americans in healthier cities with the most prosperous areas enjoying rocket-ship like growth. In contrast, the poorer communities in these same cities or towns look very different. “It’s almost like you are looking at two different countries,” said Steve Glickman, executive director of the Economic Innovation Group.

Many experts are attributing this disconnect to stagnant wage growth for most workers, and a lower level of employment among prime-age Americans, especially for those without a college degree. Overall, the South is home to more than half of the 50.4 million Americans living in distressed Zip codes.

In some cities in the South and Southwest, newer and booming areas coexist uneasily with poorer zones creating what the Economic Innovation Group calls “spatial inequality”. Unfortunately, San Antonio was ranked as the most spatially unequal city in the country. In the poorer locations west of downtown and the Alamo Plaza area, nearly half of adults did not have a high school diploma and 42 percent lived below the poverty line. Both employment and the number of businesses have declined there.   However, just 30 minutes north of 281, the poverty rate in 2014 was 4 percent. Employment and the number of businesses jumped more than 20 percent since 2010. The New York Times reported that “San Antonio appears to be doing little to raise the fortunes of those living closer to the city center.”

San Antonio Spurs Coach, Gregg Popovich was quoted as saying, “Everybody knows there’s disparity, but it’s almost an embarrassing situation.” Popovich said, “If you’re doing well, you should be embarrassed if you’re doing nothing to try to ease that gap. Whether it’s spending time with organizations, giving money, or both, it’s a responsibility that cannot be denied. If you deny it, shame on you.” Coach Popovich has been a vocal advocate for issues of equality in the past.