Report names top cities for upward mobility

Zillow Published:

By Natalie Wise

Is it possible to climb the economic ladder in America these days? Does the “American Dream” still hold weight amidst our recovering economy? Upward income mobility in the United States still exists, spread across the country, though the odds are not as high as in other countries.

In the United States, approximately 8 percent of children born to families in the bottom fifth of income distribution will reach the top fifth of income distribution within their lifetime. While other countries (such as Denmark, which has a rate of nearly 16 percent) may be ahead of the United States, here are 10 cities with the highest odds of upward income mobility.

Of the 50 largest metro areas, the top place with the best odds of reaching the top fifth is San Jose, Calif., with 12.9 percent odds. No. 2 is San Francisco with odds of 12.2 percent. Washington, D.C., ranks No. 3 with 11 percent, followed by Seattle at No. 4. Salt Lake City comes in at No. 5, with odds of 10.8 percent.

Metro New York is No. 6, followed by metro Boston, both with percentages of 10.5. San Diego, at 10.4 percent, is No. 8. Newark, N.J., shows a 10.2 percent odds, making it the No. 9 city for upward income mobility. The last area on the list is Manchester, N.H., with even 10 percent odds.

The 10 cities with the worst odds of upward mobility are led by Cleveland, with 5.1 odds, the same as No. 42, St. Louis. Raleigh, N.C., affords an even 5 percent chance of moving up.

Jacksonville, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Ind., and Dayton, Ohio, all ranked near the bottom with a 4.9 percent. Atlanta and Milwaukee scored 4.5 percent, and lastly, Charlotte, N.C., ends the list with 4.4 percent odds.

According to the Equality of Opportunity Project that lead the study, “Areas with greater mobility tend to have five characteristics: less segregation, less income inequality, better schools, greater social capital, and more stable families.”

In cities with those important factors, the American Dream may be alive and well.

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