Study: Where You Live is Key Factor in Climbing Income Ladder

Posted by George Prentice on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM

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Pack your bags, kids.

A startling new study out this morning reveals that location remains a significant barrier in climbing the income ladder. And the news is not good for Idahoans. The research found that rising to another income level occurs most often in the Northeast, Great Plains and far West.

In fact, the research says children from the bottom one-fifth of the income level in the Boise area have a 7.5 percent chance to rise to the top one-fifth of income levels. The odds are a bit better in the McCall area (10.2 percent) and the Salmon area (19.9 percent).

The study—based on millions of anonymous earnings records and published in this morning's New York Times—is the first of its kind to track upward mobility across metropolitan areas.

The big losers in the survey are the Southeast and industrial Midwest with income climbing occurring less often in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., Raleigh, N.C., Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. Conversely, some of the higher rates occurred in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors, told the Times. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

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Comments (3)

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Yes, but the cost of living takes over the increase in income. Most Californian's I know have multiple jobs because they can't afford their homes. I know as a teacher there, I had to work extra jobs because my teaching salary only covered my rent.

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Posted by Shella Rae Zelenz on 07/22/2013 at 10:00 AM

Shella, that's not true everywhere. I just relocated to Seattle from Boise and my rent increased cost went up 18% but my income increased 42% over my last FT job in Boise. I was unemployed, however, and the jobs I was looking at in Boise were dramatically lower paid than my last job, so that differential could be even bigger.
A friend in the tech field got a $20k raise by moving to Seattle for the same job. Two years later, his salary has doubled.

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Posted by Violet on 07/22/2013 at 10:55 AM

I too am moving to Seattle from Boise. I'm a photographer specializing in weddings and journalistic photography - and while there is a fair amount of interest and wealth to pay for my services, the underlying "unknown" of the local economy keeps much of my work unfunded. I know that I will have a better chance to see my dreams to fruition in Seattle, where there is far better financial security.

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Posted by AngReed3180 on 07/22/2013 at 2:07 PM
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