UAlbany Mumford Center Report Reveals Economic Disparities
Between Cities and Suburbs in the 1990s

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4981; cell (518) 265-4114; pager (518) 341-0316

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 25, 2002) Ė Suburbs throughout the United States continue to outperform cities in eight economic areas, says a new analysis of Census 2000 data by the University at Albanyís Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research.

The report ranks the nationís 50 largest metropolitan regions on the Mumford Disparity Index (MDI), which measures the overall disparity between cities and suburbs on a set of economic indicators, including income, employment and housing. According to the report, median income increased nearly twice as much in suburbs as in cities, $3,102 to $1,831, while the 18.2 percent poverty rate in cities was more than double that of the 8.6 percent suburban poverty rate. Similarly, unemployment in urban areas, at eight percent, was one-third higher than the five percent rate in the suburbs. Metro areas with the greatest disparity are concentrated in the Northeast and the Midwest: Newark (No. 50 on the MDI), Hartford (No. 49) and Detroit (No. 48). Disparities increased the most in Newark and Sacramento. Phoenix, which had the smallest city-to-suburb disparity in 1990, dropped to No. 7 by 2000.

According to UAlbany Mumford Center Director John Logan, "The gap between city and suburb is big and getting bigger. But the fact that some cities were catching up in the 1990s shows that it could go the other way." The report indicates that Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle all improved their standings in relation to their suburbs, with Las Vegas actually moving ahead of its surrounding communities on the centerís overall prosperity scale.

The report finds cities and suburbs are comparable in education levels and percentages of residents with professional and managerial occupations, yet recent college and professional school graduates between the ages of 22 and 35 often live in cities as they begin their careers. This raises the educational and occupational profile of city residents, but does not have as much effect on income or homeownership.

"These results suggest that what cities are doing well is attracting younger people with bright futures," said Logan. "Now cities must keep these very same people from leaving for the suburbs as they prosper and start families. In short, cities need to invest more in safe neighborhoods and good schools."

For other winning and losing cities, see the Mumford Center report, The Suburban Advantage Persists, at


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit


Return to University at Albany Home Page

Return to University News & Information Page