This map drives home America’s growing economic divide | Tuesday Morning Coffee

April 9, 2019 7:18 am

Image via CityLab

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

See that map up there? Take a look at the gray area. Look again. Look closer.

That’s all that’s left of America’s middle-income regions. As The Atlantic’s CityLab reports,the 1 percent “is transforming America’s cities and regions,” squeezing middle-income earners into an ever smaller share of the nation’s economic topography. Meanwhile, the gap between the haves and have-nots elsewhere in the nation has only grown larger.

From CityLab’s Richard Florida:

“The two gravest challenges facing America today, economic inequality and geographic divides, are increasingly intertwined. Economic inequality has surged with nearly all the growth being captured by the 1 percent, and the economic fortunes of coastal superstar cities and the rest of the nation have dramatically diverged.

“These two trends are fundamental to a new study by Robert Manduca, a PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University. The study uses census microdata culled from 1980 to 2013, and finds that America’s growing regional divide is largely a product of national economic inequality, in particular the outsized economic gains that have been captured by the 1 percent.”

And that gap has only grown since 1980. Here’s what the nation looked like back then:

And here’s how things looked in 2013:

“Now we see many more regions shaded in dark red than before, indicating the mean family income is less than 80 percent of the national level,” Florida writes. “At the same time, there are many more—and larger—bands of dark blue. The blue of the Washington, D.C., region grew to include more of Virginia and Maryland, and the blue New York City region grew to include more of New Jersey and Connecticut. Plus, the Bay Area, Boston, and Minneapolis, are now blue on the map.”

So if this gap is growing – what do we do? Here’s the bottom line, according to Florida:

“Coping with America’s escalating regional divide cannot, and will not, happen unless we grapple with the even larger national problem of structural inequality and its causes,” he wrote.

‘Narrowing the disparities between different parts of the country will be almost impossible without also reducing the total amount of income inequality between people,’” Manduca adds, according to Florida. “This narrowing will take a big change [in] the rules to reduce the hold the 1 percent has on the economy and redistribute wealth to a much broader spectrum of society.”

Our Stuff:
Elizabeth Hardison 
catches up with gun-control advocates pushing for a ‘red flag’ bill. They rallied in the Capitol rotunda Monday with Gov. Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge has lent his support to a nuclear bailout billStephen Caruso reports.
Medill News Service reporter Beverly Banks caught up with Gov. Tom Wolf during a trip to Washington D.C. where he talked to state and territorial governors about Pennsylvania’s efforts to combat opioid abuse.
We covered the public debut of new state Pardons Secretary Brandon Flood.

On the Opinion side of the house, an Ursinus College scholar talks about a fundamental truth of college athletics. And a childcare center owner from Philly says it’s long past time that we made childcare affordable for everyone.

The Inquirer 
says the reform groups that helped elect D.A. Larry Krasner are now active in the city’s judicial elections.
Harrisburg has been shaken by a series of armed robberies, leaving city-dwellers uneasy, PennLive reports.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro has asked the state Supreme Court to extend the operating agreement between dueling healthcare titans UPMC and Highmark, The Post-Gazette reports.
Westmoreland County government has moved to business casual for its employees, The Tribune-Review reports.
A GOP mayoral candidate in Philly (oh, he’s the one) is hassling an East Passyunk restaurant over a ‘sanctuary’ fundraiserBillyPenn reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

The prospect of a new casino in Amish Country – Morgantown, Berks County, has residents divided, The Morning Call reports.
You saw this one coming: The beverage industry is attacking Philly Mayor Jim Kenney in new campaign ads, WHYY-FM reports. 
New gun restrictions in domestic abuse cases start Wednesday. The PA Post has the details.
Bernie Sanders will rally this Sunday in PittsburghPoliticsPA reports.
Democratic support for Joe Biden is holding steady in the early primary statesPoliticoreports.
Roll Call profiles an Iowa farmer whose finger is ‘on the pulse’ of 2020.

What Goes On.
Another session day, another full dance card.
The House gavels in at 11 a.m., the Senate at its customary 1 p.m.
9 a.m., Media Center: Reps. Snyder, Bernstein and Fritz talk about paying for medical transport in rural areas
10 a.m, Main Rotunda: Private college students rally.
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: Community Colleges lobby day
12 p.m.: Kids from private and community colleges stage massive Sharks and Jets musical number on the Capitol steps. Okay … that’s just us talking 
Because, at 12 p.m.PHARMACISTS, YES, PHARMACISTS, are lobbying in the East Rotunda.
1:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: Pa. Homecare Association does its thing
2 p.m, Capitol Steps.: SEIU workers rally with various and sundry lawmakers.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
7:45 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Sen. John Gordner
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Bill Kortz
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Anita Kulik
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Jesse Topper
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Dave Zimmerman
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Tony DeLuca
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Chris Quinn
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Donna Bullock
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Dan Deasy
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald
8:30 a.m.: Reception for Rep. Carol Hill-Evans
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Lisa Baker
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Stan Saylor
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Justin Simmons
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Matthew Dowling
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an absolutely nauseating $20,250 today. Yes, $20,250. But, yeah, we don’t need campaign finance reform …

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from The Wallflowers we hadn’t heard for ages and ages. It’s “One Headlight.”

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
The warmer weather is here, and we’re unused to having to pay attention to playoff hockey. So while there’s a respite, we’ll just note that, after a horrendous weekend against New YorkBaltimore rolled past Oakland 12-4 on Monday night.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.