EPI Report: Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county

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By Estelle Sommeiller, Mark Price, and Ellis Wazeter

Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and in many states is up in the post–Great Recession era. In 24 states, the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2013, and in 15 of those states, the top 1 percent captured all income growth. In another 10 states, top 1 percent incomes grew in the double digits, while bottom 99 percent incomes fell. For the United States overall, the top 1 percent captured 85.1 percent of total income growth between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 the top 1 percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent. Rising inequality is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. While New York and Connecticut are the most unequal states (as measured by the ratio of top 1 percent to bottom 99 percent income in 2013), nine states, 54 metropolitan areas, and 165 counties have gaps wider than the national gap. In fact, the unequal income growth since the late 1970s has pushed the top 1 percent’s share of all income above 24 percent (the 1928 national peak share) in five states, 22 metro areas, and 75 counties.

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