SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco and Oakland rank among the top U.S. cities for the earning gap between the haves and have-nots, according to a new report which shows the third major Bay Area city- San Jose – ranking much lower in income disparity.

The study by the Brookings Institute released last week compares the income of the top five percent of wage earners with the bottom 20 percent in the 50 largest U.S. cities to establish a ratio for inequality. Using the formula, only Atlanta – with a ratio of nearly $19 earned at the top to every $1 at the lower end – topped San Francisco (16.6) in terms of income gap.

Oakland showed the seventh largest gap at 12.7, sandwiched in between number six New York (13.2) and number eight Chicago (12.5).

More surprisingly, San Jose – with a ratio of 8.8 – fell down the list to the 36th spot, near cities like Jacksonville and Nashville. A closer look at the numbers shows why: the bottom 20 percent in San Jose bring more than $31,000, a few dollars behind Virginia Beach, which had both the highest low-end income and the smallest income gap of the surveyed cities.

Though the gap is larger, salaries in Oakland both at the high and low end trailed well behind San Jose.

Conversely, San Francisco was pushed near the top of the list because it was the only major city where the 95th percentile was earning over $300,000 ($353,576 to be exact).

The study also found that San Francisco saw the income divide grow faster than any other city at the end of the last decade. That gap, fueled in part by the tech influx into San Francisco, has generated heated debate about how the city should combat the issue. Some have even publicly protested the role of business in creating the gap, and called for an end to tax breaks for tech companies.

In last month’s State of the City address, Mayor Ed Lee said the companies were being used as scapegoats for infrastructure problems such as the lack of affordable housing.


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