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New Study Provides Perspective on Income Trends in Metropolitan Milwaukee
Metropolitan Polarization in an Era of Affluence: Income Trends in Metropolitan Milwaukee Since 1990

Milwaukee Skyline A new study released by the UWM Center for Economic Development reveals that the income gap between the city of Milwaukee and the suburbs widened markedly during the 1990s economic boom.

Metro Milwaukee's economy flourished in the 1990s: Controlling for inflation, the average income reported on the tax returns of the region's residents grew by 17.6 percent between 1990 and 2000. However, the "rising tide" did not "lift all boats" in metropolitan Milwaukee during the 1990s boom. Real income barely budged in the City of Milwaukee and, notwithstanding recent reports on the "economic well-being" of Milwaukee's inner city, real income actually declined in inner city neighborhoods despite one of the greatest booms in U.S. economic history.

The income gap between city and suburb widened markedly during the 1990s, and income inequality deepened in the region. The number of affluent metro Milwaukee residents, reporting annual income above $100,000 (in 2000 constant dollars), surged during the 1990s, but the vast majority of these affluent taxpayers lived outside the City of Milwaukee.

There were some encouraging signs in the city. For the first time in decades, the absolute number of affluent tax filers living in the city increased during the 1990s, a trend that accelerated towards the end of the decade. Nevertheless, by 2000, as the great boom of the 1990s came to end, a decade of suburban sprawl and growing inequality had resulted in a highly polarized distribution of the benefits of prosperity in metro Milwaukee, leaving the city further behind its increasingly prosperous suburbs.

To read the complete report, visit the UWMCED website at The report is also available on the CEO website at, click on the "publications" link.

  rule / divider JANUARY 2002

Inside this issue

1   New CEO Initiative
2   Welfare Reform
2   Entrepreneurial Training
3   Equity Financing Seminar
3   Ergonomics Conference
3   New Business Counselor
3   Online Resources
4   CEO Faculty Fellows
4   Development Strategies
4   Staff Directory

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New CEO Initiative Announced
Brownfield Consortium Launched
By Joel Rast

Picture of Joel Rast
Joel Rast

Milwaukee, like most older industrial cities, is home to many acres of abandoned or underutilized properties that are either known to be or suspected to be environmentally contaminated. Such properties, commonly known as brownfields, represent potential opportunities for community redevelopment.

The Menomonee Valley, for example, where the largest concentration of brownfield properties in Milwaukee is located, lies between two low-to- moderate income city neighborhoods. The redevelopment of brownfield properties in the Valley would provide new employment opportunities in close proximity to neighborhoods where jobs are badly needed.

The UWM Brownfields Consortium is a new partnership among UWM faculty, government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations involved in the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties. The goal of the partnership is to bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers with brownfields stakeholders to develop research projects and other activities that will reduce barriers to brownfields redevelopment.

This fall, UWM Brownfields Consortium faculty are meeting with brownfields stakeholders in the Milwaukee area to identify research needs and preferences. Meetings have already been held with representatives from the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development, the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, and Menomonee Valley Partners. Once additional key stakeholders have been identified and contacted, a large group meeting will be held to develop the research agenda for the Consortium. UWM faculty associated with the Brownfields Consortium include Chris DeSousa and Linda McCarthy (Geography), Nancy Frank (Architecture and Urban Planning), and Joel Rast (Political Science).

Joel Rast is an assistant professor of Political Science and Urban Studies at UWM. He serves as Co-Director, UWM Brownfields Consortium.

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Last Updated: January 07, 2002

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