Residential segregation by income has increased during the past three decades across the United States and in 27 of the nation’s 30 largest major metropolitan areas, according to a new analysis of census tract and household income data by the Pew Research Center. Montgomery County, as one of the counties surrounding Washington, DC, is included in that study and shows that Rockville was at the bottom end of the spectrum. It’s primarily a result of a shrinking middle class: ”These increases are related to the long-term rise in income inequality, which has led to a shrinkage in the share of neighborhoods across the United States that are predominantly middle class or mixed income—to 76% in 2010, down from 85% in 1980—and a rise in the shares that are majority lower income (18% in 2010, up from 12% in 1980) and majority upper income (6% in 2010, up from 3% in 1980).”
Pew didn’t provide details on the causes of this residential segregation, which could historical settlement patterns; local housing policies, zoning laws, real estate practices and migration trends; and the characteristics of the local economy and workforce. What it could mean for Rockville is that in the longterm, the types of city services and public amenities we’ve enjoyed may erode and disappear as the community’s ability to pay for them declines. Is the City Council looking far enough ahead to respond to this trend, or are they just looking at today?
For more details, see the interactive map or read, “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income” and “The Middle Class Shrinks and Income Segregation Rises“, all available at the Pew Research Center.