rising inequality

Houston's income inequality spiked higher than anywhere else in Texas

Houston's income inequality spiked higher than anywhere else in Texas

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Houston's income gap skyrocketed between 2008 and 2017. Tomasz Zajda/EyeEm/Getty Images

Income inequality within and across the country's largest metros is on the rise, and Houston is no exception, according to a new study.

Apartment List analyzed the 100 largest U.S. metros to determine how much the income gap between the 90th and 10th percentile of earners changed from 2008 to 2017. Houston ranks worst in Texas and 11th worst in the nation, with an income gap that grew an eye-popping 16.3 percent during that period.

In 2008, Houstonians in the 90th percentile (households that earn more than 90 percent of a population) made 10.8 times more than those in the 10th percentile (households with less income than 90 percent of a population), with incomes of $156,000 and $14,400, respectively.

By 2017, the 90th percentile income grew to $189,000, while the 10th percentile income increased to only $15,000, meaning top Houston earners made 12.6 times more than the lowest earners.

Growing housing costs are amplifying income disparity nationwide, Apartment List says. "Americans in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution have experienced the most rapid growth in housing costs over the past ten years. Moving up the income ladder, the richer a household gets the less it has seen rents and mortgage payments spike."

Houston mirrors the national trend. From 2008-2017, housing costs increased 12 percent for Houston households earning less than the national median income and only 9 percent for households earning above that level.

The gap is more stark for the poorest Americans. In Houston's case, the bottom 25 percent of households earns 73 percent less than the median household income, but they face comparable housing costs, just 15 percent less than what median households pay, according to Apartment List.

Elsewhere in Texas, income inequality is less severe.

Dallas saw a 0.9 percent increase in its income inequality, showing a virtually flat change between 2008 and 2017. There's even better news in San Antonio and Austin, which are among only five cities studied where the income gap actually decreased. San Antonio recorded a 6.3 percent decrease in its income inequality, while Austin comes in first among Texas metros and second in the U.S. with a 9.5 percent decline in income inequality over the period studied.

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