U.S. cities are increasingly divided between the rich and the poor, hampering residents’ ability to move up on the economic ladder.

Not only is a widening geographic gulf between the haves and have-nots hurting economic mobility, it signals potentially dimmer prospects for some urban areas in a nation where cities have long been seen as beacons for jobs and opportunity.

A recent study of 95 metropolitan centers, found American cities overall are now less economically mixed than in earlier decades, with increasingly deeper pockets of rich residents isolated from poor ones.

There are more neighborhoods where poverty and wealth is more concentrated, and all you have to do is open your eyes and look at the different areas of your hometown.  Neighborhoods are defined by economic standards and levels.  Older neighborhoods that use to be middleclass, but have fallen into repair and trailer parks tend to attract people who are considered poor because of cheaper housing costs.  Whereas new housing developments and re-vitalized inner city neighborhoods attract more wealthy people also due to high housing costs.

That isolation makes it hard for the poor to improve their circumstances.  For example, a low-income family in a more divided city typically sees four generations pass before reaching half the nation’s mean income.  In a more financially mixed society, it use to only take three generations to become middle-class.  Such economic segregation is increasing across the United States as the country continues to find stronger financial footing after the deep 2007-2009 recession.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Barack Obama returned to the issue with a speech on income inequality and economic mobility, calling for a renewed focus on actions that benefit the struggling poor and middle classes.  Wednesday’s study adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the nation’s uneven economic recovery and growing class divisions.

Previous studies show that it is easier to move up the economic ladder in some parts of the United States, namely in the Northeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic.  While those people living in the South, are less likely to improve their economic prospects.

As the middle-class shrinks, the lower level will grow requiring more and more services and if those services are not in place, then they will acquire them through other means and I do not mean lawfully.  Many conservatives believe that all welfare should be eliminated and families should financially support each other instead.  But the reality is that poor families tend to stay poor, thus lack the means to help each other and even if society would do away with federal programs, you are still going to financially need to support low-income families, in whatever means that requires.

For example, that is why neighborhoods that are inhabited by people of limited means tend to have higher crime rates which lead to higher financial burdens for the community to absorb due to a need for more police, more courts, more jails, more prisons, and more parole officers, once they are released.

In my state, the oil boom has increased the median income and brought a level of prosperity to some people, but it has forced a lot of fixed-income families and the elderly out of a middleclass living into poverty levels due to the extreme cost of living in the oil patch area.  Rents in that area of the state have quadrupled in recent years and the cost of food has doubled.  While many people in the state see this as a great financial benefit, what about that elderly grandma, living on social security who receives notice from her landlord that her rent will be going up in 30 days from $425.00 to $1700.00;  I bet that she does not see this as a good thing.