NEW YORK — More than 30 U.S. big-city mayors gathered on Monday to fight the widening income gap between the rich and the poor in urban areas.
The task force, called Cities of Opportunity and hosted by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, was formed in June during a meeting of mayors in Dallas. The group, which represents some of the most populous cities in the nation, vowed to share ideas to take on income inequality, which has become a growing political concern in recent years, and create a platform that could be copied in other cities.
Chief among the pledges were a push for higher wages, an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, the creation of more affordable housing and increased Internet access for poor neighborhoods, the mayors said.
"The question of how you get there is a local question, but the aspiration and the belief that we have to do things like that is what unites us," de Blasio said during a news conference after the meeting at his official residence, Gracie Mansion.
De Blasio was elected last fall on a campaign to fight income inequality, or, as he dubbed it, "A Tale of Two Cities." Other mayors who attended the meeting and voiced similar ideas included Marty Walsh of Boston, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Mitchell Landrieu of New Orleans.
The group, made up primarily of Democrats, released a report that showed that the wealthiest households had 43.6 percent of the nation's income in 1975, while the poorest had a share of 4.3 percent. That disparity had increased by 2012, when high-earners had 51 percent of the nation's income, and low-income households had only 3.2 percent.
According to the report, the median income in the Midwest in 2012 was $50,479.
In 2005, the median household income in Columbia was $39,100. That number rose to $46,400 in 2009, but fell to $42,200 in 2013, according to the report.
In Columbia, 18.8 percent of Columbia households had a median income of $100,000 or more in 2012, and 29.1 percent of households had a median income of less than $25,000, according to the report's data. Those with a median income between $25,000 and $99,999 made up 52.1 percent of Columbia households. Metro-area median household income data for previous years was not provided in the report.
Several of the mayors voiced frustration at a lack of federal assistance and expressed hope that Washington would start paying attention.
"We hope that members of Congress see the work that we're doing and see the product of what we're producing and say, 'Listen, I want some of that, too,'" Landrieu said.
Missourian reporter Lauren Rutherford contributed to this report.