HVTDC senior engineer Robert Incerto and executive director Tom Phillips with SUNY interns Lori Jockers and Mike Papesca. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

HVTDC senior engineer Robert Incerto and executive director Tom Phillips with SUNY interns Lori Jockers and Mike Papesca. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Remember Plasmaco? The manufacturer of plasma-display flat screens was supposed to bring an industrial renaissance to the Town of Lloyd? Founded in 1987, the company was bought out by the Japanese tech firm Matsushita only nine years later. Its headquarters at 180 South Street became home to Prism Solar Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer of bifacial glass solar electricity generation modules that has not yet realized the potential that was expected of it.

While Prism still occupies up to a third of the 90,000-square-foot facility, a new tenant moved in on July 26 which brought with it potential ramifications for startup companies in Ulster County and beyond. Formerly situated on Route 300 in the Town of Newburgh, the not-for-profit Hudson Valley Technology Development Center, Inc. (HVTDC) moved its 16-person team (eleven employees and five interns) to the South Street facility, and now rents about 5000 square feet of the space owned by Prism Solar. “It’s mostly offices, but we’ve got enough space to set up our engineering lab,” said Phyllis Levine, HVTDC’s manager for marketing and administration.

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shrimp-300x200Inside a humid 10,000-square-foot room in a former mattress factory a few blocks inward from the Newburgh waterfront are 28 circular salt-and-fresh-water tanks, each about 14 feet in diameter, four feet high, and each containing thousands of shrimp. Proprietor of Eco Shrimp Garden Jean Claude Frajmund assures visitors that his shrimp are grown sustainably and free from chemicals, pollutants, antibiotics and hormones. They are never frozen.

His secret sauce, he says, is a biofloc formula that nurtures select bacteria in much the same way as real yoghurt does. The bacteria levels are tested many times daily. If the nutriment mix isn’t right, Frajmund explains, the shrimp suffer. Not good, he says empathetically. “We want them happy.”

The business currently produces about 350 pounds of fresh shrimp every week, and Frajmund has three employees. His ambition, he says, is to produce 100,000 pounds a year, an amount equal to what New Yorkers consume in a day (more than the consumption of salmon and tuna put together).

Eco Shrimp, which Frajmund says is the only urban shrimp farm in the nation (“I’m a city guy”), gets most of its eleven-day-old post-larval broodstock through overnight shipment from Florida. Into the first tank the baby shrimp go to grow.

On Friday, July 29, the Kingston-based fledgling Hudson Valley Startup Fund made its first investment, signing papers committing to Eco Shrimp Garden up to $175,000 of the $1.15 million it has raised from 44 investors. In a photograph of the occasion, HVSF co-manager Chad Gomes of Esopus is shown handing a $25,000 check, representing the first tranche, or portion, of the transaction, to Frajmund. Both men are smiling.

Eco Shrimp Garden sells almost entirely at New York City markets, Union Square Greenmarket and fancy restaurants. On greenmarket day in Union Square, he reports, he has no trouble selling out by early afternoon. He boasts that he could easily sell ten times as much as he does, and that 80 percent of his purchasers become return customers. He has what seems to be the foundation of a good business.

Posted prices in Newburgh start at $26 a pound, and go up to the high thirties for the largest ones. To the thought that the price point seems relatively high by local standards, he replies that he’s disrupting the industry and that his product is worth the difference. Since despite his website’s claim to the contrary he didn’t have anything for retail sale that Thursday afternoon, there was no way to test the proposition.

How was Frajmund able to secure outside financial participation for a business less than a year old? The HVSF was brought to his attention by Orange County attorney Austin DuBois, who does legal work for some of the startup fund’s investors and who has recently become an investor in it himself. DuBois, vice chairman of the Newburgh city Industrial Development Authority and a member of the Pattern for Progress board, is well connected in regional business circles.

The vetting process was methodical. Frajmund completed the application process to determine whether he fit the HVSF criteria. He made an introductory pitch to a meeting of about 40 people at Marist College in January. He then met with a steering committee of six or seven HVSF members, and in April made a 15-minute presentation to the entire group, followed by a 15-minute Q&A and a 15-minute group discussion. “I was the visionary,” Frajmund says.

The next step was a grilling by a due-diligence team, where Eco Shrimp’s background, finances, business model and strategy were discussed. At the June HVSF meeting, the structure of the deal was broached for the first time.

The first portion of the investment money would go to a study of Eco’s scalability. How can the business evolve to its full potential?

With 44 investors, five of whom are managing directors (Tony DiMarco, Chad Gomes, Paul Hakim, Johnny LeHane and Noa Simons), HVSF has a lot of business experience to lean on. “Someone’s an expert on every aspect of business,” DiMarco explains. “There’s a kind of collective wisdom.”

The mission of the organization is as much to provide mentorship as seed capital. But its strength goes well beyond the identification of businesses which offer high growth potential, like Eco. The managing directors, who meet every Friday morning in Kingston, know almost all the local players focused on the region’s economic development. The entire group will hear at its monthly meetings about the progress of the companies in which HVSF has invested. Over time, the members will get to know each other even better. HVSF’s activities add an ingredient that can strengthen the entrepreneurial culture of the Hudson Valley.

Frajmund has a colorful past. He grew up in Brazil, and in the 1980s once lived in a fishing village where eating shrimp was breakfast. Living with his family on the Upper West Side 30 years later, he came across an article on indoor shrimp farming that revived his interest. That was four years ago.

He says he feels “comfortable” with the people who agreed to fund Eco Shrimp. The HVSF has done well by him. “My feeling is that their main goal is not money,” he says.

He has learned the lingo. He was pleased to learn that his business combines profitability, social responsibility and environmentalism — the auspicious “triple bottom line” that many progressive business experts espouse.

Frajmund has signed on to HVSF’s mission. His collaboration with the group represents a happy marriage of visions. “We need to help small business,” he says.

HVAMC assistant director Kat Wilson. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

HVAMC assistant director Kat Wilson. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

A 3D-printing company on West 24th Street in New York City focused on printing custom shoe insoles prescribed by doctors has raised at least $19.3 million in funding. That’s a lot of money. It gives the start-up business at least a foot up — if not a leg up — in its space.

A tenant in a huge building a block west of the Hotel Americano (the boutique hotel next to the High Line whose ownership hopes to convert the Cioni building in uptown Kingston to similar hotel use), Sols is one of the first companies to employ 3D printing technologies to market custom-manufactured wearables. It’s one of the many examples of digitally based businesses, some in the Hudson Valley, that have been seeking to transform heretofore staid industrial niches.

The Sols end user “scans” his or her foot by recording a video using a mobile application, and Sols adds other information like height, weight, lifestyle, how the insert will be used, and more. New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony, who has invested in Sols, says that as an athlete he understands “the relationship between high performance, skill and proper biomechanical alignment.” Knicks forward Anthony called Sols a pioneer in the 3D printed, custom orthotics space. Hundreds of medical professionals are now offering its products to their patients.

“New York’s long history as a fashion, media, medical and shopping city gives it an edge over other cities,” Sols CEO and founder Kegan Schouwenberg is quoted as saying in a July 2016 report entitled Making It Here from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF). “I don’t think [Silicon] Valley understands physical products like New York. They get software and hardware companies. Physical consumer products companies, they don’t get that. That’s what New York does well. We get what people buy. We’re watching every day.”

That’s pretty much what Makerbot co-founder Bre Pettis said at the ribbon-cutting of the Makerbot Innovation Center on the SUNY New Paltz campus back in February 2014. “We were looking for a partner in New York, because New Yorkers just get stuff done,” Pettis had said. “It seemed like such a great opportunity. I’m personally really excited to see what happens when the jewelry students join forces with the mechanical engineering students. I want to invest in the company that emerges from the meetings that happen in this room.”

Though manufacturing in New York City is costly, 3-D printing is not very capital-intensive, and it doesn’t take up much space. “If cost is the important factor, I’d rather make it in Tennessee and FedEx it up there,” says Jack Plunkett of Plunkett Research in the CUF report. “But if time is the key factor, then the ability to localize this technology is phenomenal.”

For the Hudson Valley, the long-range economic question may involve what niche is right for you when you’re neither around the corner in Brooklyn nor as far away as Tennessee. But that’s not the short-term. With so mercurial and unexplored a technology, one available role could be for the early adopter, someone who tries out new technology as soon as it becomes available and shares it with an audience of potential users. A school can fit that role particularly well.

That’s what SUNY New Paltz is doing. If anyone knows about the character of the demand for this innovative, wide-ranging and disruptive technology in the Hudson Valley, it should be New Paltz science and engineering dean Dan Freedman, director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center (HVAMC). Freedman estimates that about 150 companies and individuals in the region, ranging from large industrial employers to smaller firms to individuals working out of their own garages with an idea, have been in contact with the HVAMC in regard to 3D printing technology. Many have used and are using its services.

Freedman, who notes that the basic technology for 3-D printing has been around for decades, says that prototyping has been its most traditional application. It’s often used to create art objects. And it’s used for final-use manufacturing in a wide variety of ways, making parts, using new materials and creating replicas.

“I’d like to give my students an entrepreneurial education,” he says.

On June 25, the school announced a new superlab with a variety of 3D printers made by the manufacturer Stratsys and its affiliates, including high-end printers using two advanced technologies. The lab will continue to be available like its simpler Makerbot predecessor both to students and the Hudson Valley business community. The facility features a suite of advanced printers, including an industrial-grade multi-material 3D printer, advanced production printers, plus over 40 MakerBot 3D printers.

“The lab will be open to the entire campus from engineering and art students, to English and philosophy students, as well as educators,” said a press release from the college “The lab will also serve as a central 3D printing service center for the surrounding communities and business, helping to grow the Hudson Valley economy.”

The additive manufacturing superlab has received designation as a Stratasys MakerBot Additive Research & Teaching facility, inevitably destined to be known by its acronym SMART.

“Our designation as a SMART lab is huge step for the HVAMC,” Freedman is quoted as saying. “The combination of our unique focus at the interface of art, engineering and science, and the recognition and support by the world’s leading manufacturer of 3D printers, will move us to an unparalleled interdisciplinary educational experience, help us support regional businesses, and give our faculty the tools and expertise to do cutting-edge scholarship in art, engineering and design.”

What hasn’t happened much is the investment Pettis predicted two and a half years ago would “emerge from the meetings that happen in this room.” To my knowledge, there haven’t yet been many examples in the Hudson Valley of the kinds of investments made in pioneering companies in New York City using 3D printing. Surely some of the 150 enterprises with which Freedman has had contact represent investment opportunities, even if after significant tweaking.

Does the problem stem more from a lack of availability of appropriate capital than from a lack of coherent business planning? Perhaps SUNY New Paltz should be asking itself that question. Without both capital and business planning, “the tools and expertise to do cutting-edge scholarship in art, engineering and design” aren’t of much use in helping grow the regional economy.

It’s my thought that the engineering and liberal-arts schools should be in touch with the business school on this one.

mismatch-SQ“These are the kinds of things you guys are supposed to think about and come up with policies,” Ulster County’s Office of Employment and Training (UCOET) Director Lisa Berger told the members of the county Workforce Investment Board toward the end of the WIB meeting on a mid-July late afternoon. After spending more than the first hour of their hour-and-a-half meeting on the mind-numbing minutiae of federal and state regulations, the members and staff spent the last few minutes exchanging experiences about a broader problem: the mismatch in Ulster County between the jobs available in the labor force and the willingness of the unemployed and underemployed to take those jobs.

Berger’s tone was not sarcastic. It was somewhere between challenging and bantering. She must know how difficult progress will be to achieve.

Many Ulster County employers complain that they are having trouble finding qualified applicants for available jobs. Many potential employees, especially young people, complain that there aren’t many jobs available that they want to take. Do employers have standards that are too high? Are employees being too picky? Or both?

A recent paper from the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank defines a skills mismatch in the labor market as “a misallocation between the attributes of individuals seeking jobs and the attributes employers require for their vacant positions.” That careful non-judgmental terminology applies to all labor markets.

The 20-member Ulster WIB, a majority of whose members by federal law are representatives of the private sector, holds six hour-and-a-half meetings a year. Though some members talk with each other between meetings, the likelihood of the WIB devising unaided a coherent strategy for easing the job provider/job seeker mismatch in Ulster County isn’t much higher than zero.

The economic literature suggests that most places outside the largest metropolitan areas are doing little better than Ulster County. Recent track records from training programs in other industrialized countries point to mismatch problems being worldwide.

“By providing job training for eligible and suitable dislocated workers, low-income and otherwise disadvantaged adults and youth, UCOET answers the needs of employers seeking a well-trained and capable workforce,” explains the Ulster County governmental websits.

These words convey a sunny optimism that, alas, is unjustified. The limited population UCOET serves is often on the margins of the labor force. About half the money the agency gets from the federal government, its sole source of funding, goes to pay its own employees.

Maybe the computer age is to blame. Perhaps digital disruption has caused a mismatch between generations that wasn’t there before, creating a greater chasm between traditional employers looking for employees and a generation of employees looking for income: “the gig economy,” as Mary Grenz Jalloh of Ulster BOCES called it at the WIB meeting.

Perhaps the millennials who seek temporary, part-time and independent employment will continue to prefer to find work for themselves and each other through leads on Facebook and gigs on LinkedIn. Later, rather than take a regular job they may choose to “upskill,” or expand their independent marketable capabilities.

In a 2014 paper entitled “Skill gaps, skill shortages and skill mismatches: Evidence for the U.S.” Peter Cappelli of The Wharton School doesn’t mince words. He believes that most mismatches are caused by the increased supply of knowledge workers in a marketplace with more diverse worker needs.

“Objective evidence from government data and other sources does not support any of the claims about skill problems,” Cappelli concludes. “In fact, the evidence appears to be compelling that the U.S. is experiencing exactly the opposite problem, a substantial skills mismatch in the form of individuals with more education than their current jobs require and a surplus of educated and skilled workers who cannot find jobs at all, let alone jobs appropriate for their education and skill level.” Cappelli thinks that many, perhaps most, employer problems with hiring appear to be self-inflicted, such as inadequate pay and training. That’s a harsh judgment.

Cappelli builds his case. Declines in employee tenure mean more turnover and more hiring. The emphasis on experience rather than academic skills is tough on young candidates. Training is often inadequate. Apprenticeship systems are declining. Employers seek specific rather than general skills.

The attributes of accountability and motivation are associated, Cappelli notes, with growing up. “How schools can accelerate that process and make 18-year-olds act like 28-year-olds,” he writes dryly, “is not clear.” He expresses doubts that employers should transfer their training responsibilities to educational organizations, an increasingly common practice.

petey-SQAt breakfast at the Phoenicia Diner one morning, my soon-to-be-25-year-old son Nick talked about this bunch of area kids his age who all know each other. A couple of them may have finished community college, and the others have dropped out somewhere along the educational path. Some would like to finish college if they could. Others vehemently reject that route.

These are not your standard college kids thirsty for knowledge and eager for career advancement. They’re the opposite, cynical about the benefits of schooling but extremely supportive toward each other. They’re all in the same boat, rowing against the tide. They’re the waste product of a society that once believed in equal opportunity but no longer practices it.

One might describe these young people not only as congenitally undereducated but also as chronically underemployed. Though a couple of them subsist on handouts from relatives, most work part-time or intermittently as housekeepers, waitpersons and dogsitters, as landscapers, contractors and electrical apprentices. They’re competent at what they do. They’re as smart as anyone else. Maybe smarter.

They travel a lot to North American cities, and some have been to Europe. Though they talk often of moving to the West Coast, they’re still here. Time is passing.

My son, thanks to his recent college degree and already decaying computer skills, is the only one on their frail vessel with a plausible round-trip ticket. He can go back and pass for ambitious.

Nick likes these young people he knows. He identifies with them more than he does with his college classmates. Why? Because they’re always honest, he says. They try earnestly to express who they are, how they live, what their problems are. Few false notes. They’ve traveled the territory they inhabit. They’re not phonies.

Shades of Holden Caulfield: “You never saw so many phonies in all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everybody could hear and know how sharp they were.”

July 16 was the 65th anniversary of the publication of Catcher in the Rye.

Maybe these kids should all go to college together. All for one and one for all. How could it happen? What college would have them?

To graduate from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, “every student, with faculty advice and guidance, devises an individual program in which he or she attempts to ask, and answer, a question perhaps never before posed. There is no other undergraduate college that approaches learning this way.”

A lot of these kids haven’t had perfect upbringings. Learning problems are not unknown among them. But they follow their passions. It’s a mean society that excludes on the basis of handicap rather than building on the base of strength.

So here’s my idea, I told my son across the diner breakfast table. You put this group of kids who are as good as anybody else but will probably never have the opportunity to prove it into this college that claims to want to answer questions that may never have been posed. The question you want them to find the answer to is one Socrates asked of Athenian youths 2500 years ago: how they can live meaningful lives contributing to a world that doesn’t usually ask — or answer — questions like that.

Socrates was a real pain in the ass. We need more like him.

My dear friend Julie O’Connor, who edits our Almanac, and I have worked together for decades. She’s one of the few people I know who does her best to live a meaningful life. Her daughter Lucia, who was mostly home-schooled, is a wonderful kid who I think has inherited the meaningfulness gene. Lucia has just finished her first year at Hampshire College. It’s challenging, she says, but she likes it.

My daughter Heather’s stepdaughter Emma, 16, came to Ulster County this month with her family. Heather and her family live in the affordable part of Beverly Hills. Emma wants to go to school on the East Coast, and she’s been doing a tour of colleges. When I mentioned Hampshire, which I knew she visited, her face lit up. That’s where I want to go, she said. She’s considering applying for early admission. I gave her Lucia’s phone number.

So here’s the deal, Hampshire College. Be willing to admit all these kids Nick knows as a group. Give them the opportunity to realize the American dream.

Practically all kids who go to college spend a couple of years finding themselves. Susceptible to false idealism in a false gathering place, they start isolated from one another. For self-protection, they learn a herd instinct often disloyal to who they started out as. Should education feed off weakness, not build on strength?

That isn’t what education has to be.

Admit these kids, Hampshire College. Pay the freight. Arrange for them to share in depth with their fellow students how they intend to live meaningful lives. Have an equal number of regular students tell the young people Nick knows in turn how they intend to live meaningful lives. The two groups, in conjunction with facilitators, should plan a curriculum for exploration of the alternatives. The goal will be to create in this agora a better, more holistic and more examined community life.

It’s an experiment worth conducting. If the opportunity were honestly provided, I believe it would help build what we all need: a less inequitable American society.

(Photo by Will Dendis)

(Photo by Will Dendis)

The other shoe has dropped at the financially troubled Hudson Valley Mall on Ulster Avenue. Its $49.4-million mortgage has been foreclosed upon, and Kingston attorney Catherine Charuk has been appointed receiver to sort out the situation in the interests of the creditors. Mall management is no longer making the big decisions.

According to the foreclosure action, the mall owners ceased making payments on the mortgage last September. That default entitled the mortgage-holder to the appointment of a receiver without notice, an action confirmed by Supreme County justice Richard Mott. The receiver or an agent handles the rents, maintains the premises, and directs other operational and management functions. New York City broker Andrew Scandalios has been appointed real-estate broker “to market the mortgaged premises for sale subject to court approval.”

On May 2, mall owner PCK Development formally consented to the order appointing the receiver.

The 62.6-acre Hudson Valley Mall contains 765,269 square feet of rentable space and currently generates income of about $650,000 a month. That sum includes rent being paid by tenants, including JC Penney and Macy’s, who had shuttered their stores before their leases ran out.

The mall is presently assessed at $66 million, but is suing for a reduction to $40 million. The likely success of that effort would put pressure on the remaining taxpayers of the Town of Ulster, Kingston’s school district and county government, which must come up with the tax money that the mall would otherwise be paying.

The taxable base of the town is 1.1 billion dollars, which suggests that the impact of the reduction in the mall’s taxes to the other taxpayers in the town would be in the neighborhood of 2.3 percent of the total tax base. Town government is presently dealing with the effects of reduced revenues from TechCity, formerly the town’s other biggest contributor to the tax base.

It looks very much as though someone, the creditors, the debtors or both, will have to write off a substantial portion of their investment.

With 28 persons seated on the more than 200 chairs available at the food court a few minutes past noon Friday, July 7, the Hudson Valley Mall looked sparsely populated. Five small food-service places remained. In addition to the five remaining anchors — Sears, Regal Cinema, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target — about 40 smaller stores, some local, some regional and some national — are still doing business. Visitor traffic in the corridors seemed light, as might be expected at that time of day and week. The anchors all had some customers.

The attendant at the mall’s information booth was helpful. She directed me to the Woodstock Music Shop, a newer establishment down the hallway. That was the kind of service-oriented business the mall management was trying to attract, she said.

The music store displayed a poster for the Woodstock Rock Academy, which the store clerk told me it supported but didn’t have a financial connection with. The store not only sold musical equipment, he said, but did rentals, hosted workshops and classes, and provided other services to the music community. Open less than a year, it was doing all right, he said.

A couple of the empty stores hosted displays of cars from Begnal Motors and Sawyer Motors. The custom-made auto-show vehicles from Sawyer were particularly striking.

A hallway sign said: “Support Ulster County. Shop local. Shop the Hudson Valley Mall, your mall since 1989.”

On the way out, I counted 22 people in the food court. I estimate that there were about 350 cars in the various parking lots surrounding the mall. I didn’t do an exact count.

Since the Hudson Valley Mall can’t seem to meet its financial obligations and doesn’t seem on the brink of a turnaround, the receiver’s job will involve major changes. The problems won’t solve themselves. Charuk, whose office is on Pearl Street in Kingston, had no comment on her task at the mall, other than that she hopes to handle the job expeditiously.

In terms of employment and compensation, the retail sector in Ulster County has been stable in the past decade. According to federal census data, the industry had 9676 employees in the first quarter of 2004 and 8986 in the same period of 2014. Total payroll in the low-paying sector, unadjusted for inflation, has increased in the decade from $203.5 million to $232.6 million.

Ulster town supervisor James Quigley is convinced that some level of retail business activity will continue at the mall. In the long term, will it be sufficient to maintain the viability of the mall model in a market the size of Kingston? Can a complementary use be found that will strengthen the mall? Or will other sites without the expense structure (maintenance, security) gradually draw away the critical mass of activity the mall requires for viability?

Bankruptcy law and the marketplace will decide.

shopping-cartIn a report published June 16, three Economic Policy Institute researchers used IRS data to calculate the incomes of the top one percent and the other 99 percent in each United States county. Researchers Estelle Sommeiller, Mark Price and Ellis Wezeter calculated the ratio between the two. Practically all the counties that ranked highest in median income also ranked the highest in inequality.

Money’s a big issue. One of the basic questions of economics is how the economic pie can be encouraged to grow faster while also being distributed into more equitable pieces. One’s attention between those two variables probably depends on one’s politics. But the complex interaction among economic growth, affordability and economic inequality is not easily navigated.

In income, Ulster is ranked fairly high at 305th among the more than three thousand U.S. counties, behind that of most but not all the counties in the region to its south and well ahead of most of the non-urban counties to its north and west. Dutchess and Orange counties are comfortably higher than Ulster, and Greene and Delaware are considerably lower.

Unsurprisingly, about half of the counties that the Regional Plan Association defines as within the New York metropolitan region have among the highest median-income levels in the country. Ulster County would like to be transformed into one of those. It has a long way to go.

The top one percent of families in Ulster County averaged a median income of $561,318, the bottom 99 percent $39,344. Dividing the second number into the first gives a ratio of 14.3.
That ratio ranked Ulster 1255th among all 3144 United States counties in disparity. Dutchess was 758th, meaning the gap is wider; Orange 1319th, Greene 1820th. With its high proportion of recent wealthy city émigrés and relatively small population, Columbia County ranked 108th among the counties in terms of inequality. The median income of the top one percent in that county was $1,063,446 in 2013.

How much do you have to earn, as reported to the IRS, to qualify for the top one percent? It was over a million dollars in only twelve counties in the country.
To be in the top one per cent in Teton County, Wyoming, your family needed to make $2,216,883 in 2013. The average income in the top one per cent was $19,995,834. In terms of income, Teton, an extremely attractive environment in the middle of nowhere, is the most unequal county in the country.

Second on the list is Manhattan, where $1,424,582 was the threshold amount needed to be in the top one percent. The median income of the one percent in New York County is $8,143,415.
Third is Fairfield, Connecticut (Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford), with $1,390,965 required. In sixth place is Westchester County, where one needs $1,184,603 in 2013 income for membership in the top one percent.

The report found that income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s, and in many states was at the post-Great Recession level. In 24 states, the top one percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2013, and in 15 of those states the top one percent captured all income growth. In another ten states, top one-percent incomes grew in the double digits, while bottom 99 percent incomes fell.

For the United States overall, the report indicated, the top one percent of families captured 85.1 percent of total income growth between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 the top one percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.

“Accept it: New York thrives on inequality,” wrote the irrepressible Greg David of Crain’s Business on June 22. His slant was that the wealthy pay a lot of taxes on their income. “Inequality has increased in recent years,” David admitted, “but remains a few percentage points below the 2007 peak.”
For many, it’s worth sticking it out in the Big Apple in hopes of economic advancement and opportunity. For others, it isn’t. New York City is an exciting place to be. There are compelling reasons for staying, compelling reasons for leaving, and compelling reasons for trying to seek the best of both worlds.

Census demographer William Frey studied the population numbers from 2010 to 2013 in America’s 51 largest metro areas. Commented futurist Richard Florida, “Overall, his numbers appear to support the notion of a great inversion from the previous era of mass suburbanization.” In a third of the most populous metros, including New York City, the center cities grew faster than the suburbs.

America’s economically thriving biggest cities, most of which have a lot of rich people and a lot of poor people, host a growing degree of economic inequality. In a ranking of the nation’s 916 metropolitan areas, many of the top slots in terms of the income threshold for the top one percent are occupied by large cities. Besides the ones already mentioned, San Jose ranks fifth in inequality, San Francisco eighth, Boston tenth, Houston 20, Washington 21, Seattle 26, Chicago 29, Los Angeles 31, Miami 32, Minneapolis 33, Denver 34, Dallas 35, Philadelphia 41 and San Diego 48.