As Emily Badger and Lazaro Gamio explain,
Kansas City, St. Louis and and Baltimore are missing holes on a map of American prosperity. They are relatively low-income, encircled by wealth. Cross their county lines into the suburbs, and households there make, in many cases, nearly twice as much.
Same with Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Dallas.
The pattern is a classic American one, built through decades of postwar wealthy flight to the suburbs and disinvestment in cities. But it’s striking today how deeply entrenched this geometry remains at the county level, especially in an era when poverty is expanding into the suburbs and wealthier households are moving back in.
Map median household income by county as we have above with new Census data — showing every county with more than 65,000 people — and, over and over again, you get a similar pattern. There’s a lot of money in the suburbs, and a shortage of it in the city center.