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Florida metropolitan areas saw more economic segregation than those in any other state during and after the Great Recession, according to a new study.


Economists Sean Reardon of Stanford and Kendra Bischoff of Cornell found that three of the top-10 metros, and five of the top-20, that saw the sharpest rise in very rich and very poor neighborhoods were in Florida. Here is the top 10, with the Florida metros bolded.

  1. Cape Coral-Ft. Myers, Fla.
  2. Greenville, S.C.
  3. Provo-Orem, Utah
  4. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C./S.C.
  5. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.
  6. Springfield, Mass.
  7. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boyonton Beach, Fla.
  8. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.
  9. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Fla.
  10. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, R.I.-Mass.

Tampa-St. Petersburg and Lakeland-Winter Haven placed 18th and 19th, respectively.


The authors looked at changes in family income within U.S. Census tracts between 2007 and 2012 to determine the extent of economic segregation. The larger the decline in middle-income neighborhoods, the greater the segregation. Overall, the U.S. saw a modest increase in economic segregation, coinciding with rising income inequality during the period. This chart illustrates the ongoing disappearance of middle-class neighborhoods from the American landscape over the past decades; just 41% of families lived in middle-income neighborhoods in 2012, compared with 65% in 1970.

economic segregation
Reardon, Bischoff

The authors said the rising isolation of the affluent was cause for concern.

"Segregation of affluence not only concentrates income and wealth in a small number of communities, but also concentrates social capital and political power," they write. "As a result, any self-interested investment the rich make in their own communities has little chance of 'spilling over' to benefit middle- and low-income families. In addition, it is increasingly unlikely that high-income families interact with middle- and low-income families, eroding some of the social empathy that might lead to support for broader public investment in social programs to help the poor and middle class."


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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