Seattle’s income inequality “not as bad as you think,” plus bonus links on mobility and the minimum wage

Emily Parkhurst reviews income data in the Puget Sound Business Journal and finds the metro area is doing pretty well.

The national debate over income inequality and raising the minimum wage may begetting a lot of attention here in the Seattle area, but this region is one of the best in the country to go if you’re looking for a strong middle class.

The Seattle metropolitan area, which includes Tacoma, Bellevue, Redmond and Everett, has 5.89 low-income households for every high-income household, a ratio much better than many other parts of the country. And in Seattle, 11.8 percent of people live in households that are below the federal poverty line.

We discussed the numbers a bit and I’m quoted (briefly) in the story. The metro area has a strong economy, well-educated adult population, and the twin peaks of high tech and aerospace holding up the sky. Not anything to take for granted — as we saw during the 777X competition the world covets our top industries – but a solid foundation on which to build.

Two articles addressing issues we discussed this week are worth noting:

Robert Samuelson: The social mobility muddle

About a third of the children born into the wealthiest fifth of Americans stay in the richest fifth as adults — but two-thirds move down. Among children born to parents in the middle 20 percent by income, about a fifth end up in the richest fifth, as do about 9 percent of children born to the poorest fifth of Americans.

Mickey Kaus: The other kind of inequality

“Whether we come from poverty or wealth,” President Reagan said, “we are all equal in the eyes of God. But as Americans that is not enough. We must be equal in the eyes of each other.” Worry about this social equality lies at the root of our worry about economic equality.

Social equality—”equality of respect,” as economist Noah Smith puts it—is harder to measure than money inequality. But the good news is that if social equality is what we’re after, there may be ways to achieve it that don’t involve a doomed crusade to reverse the tides of purely economic inequality.

Good reads, both of them.

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