Comparing where Occupy Wall Streets protests are versus where the super wealthy live

In looking at which metropolitan areas have bigger shares of the top 1% of income earners in the United States, Howard Wial hints at an interesting relationship: are the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place in the same places as where the wealthiest live?

These very high-income households are disproportionately metropolitan. While about 85 percent of all income tax filers have metropolitan addresses, about 93 percent of the very rich live in metropolitan areas. The top 3 percent are highly concentrated in a relatively small number of large metropolitan areas.

Only twenty metropolitan areas — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, San Jose, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Diego, Detroit, Phoenix, Baltimore, Bridgeport (Fairfield County, Connecticut, is the center of the hedge fund industry and home to many corporate headquarters), and Denver — have at least 1 percent of all the nation’s very high-income households. Collectively those areas account for 56 percent of the highest-income households but for only 37 percent of all households…

There are Occupy movements in nearly all the metropolitan areas where the top 3 percent are concentrated. All of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most top-income households have groups listed in the directory on the Occupy Together Web site. So do all but six of the 54 metropolitan areas where the very rich are disproportionately located.  (The missing six are Bridgeport, Connecticut; Naples, Florida; Sebastian, Florida; Lafayette, Louisiana; Midland, Texas; and Tyler, Texas.)

Yet movements in support of Occupy Wall Street also exist in many places other than those where the very rich are concentrated, including such seemingly unlikely locales as Anderson, Indiana, and Texarkana, Texas.  Geographically, their reach is greater than that of the very rich.

This would be interesting to follow up on: how much of the protest activity is being driven by places where the richest and everyone else live relatively near each other? And for those protesting outside of these wealthier areas, is the process of setting up a protest much different in order to face a more anonymous opponent?

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